From Prior Fire Survivors to Friends and Family of Current Fire Survivors:
Thank you for your support.
- We are fire survivors, not fire victims. It helps to have the right mentality.
- Cash is the most useful thing. Target or Costco gift cards are next. I know it feels like you want to help their basic needs with clothes, etc., but honestly after the first couple of days those things just become burdens to the recipient, because you’re essentially forcing things on them that they might not have chosen for themselves. If you want to make someone cry in public, hang out at Target and pay for a family that is obviously replacing everything.
- One nice surprise we were given about a month after the fire were some Christmas decorations. Not something we really thought about ourselves, because it wasn’t “essential” right away.
- Please don’t ever say “It’s replaceable” or “It’s just things”. Yes, we know that’s generally true, but everyone lost something irreplaceable–pets, or photos, or heirlooms, or videos of their daughter’s ballet programs, or of their wedding 😥.
- If your friends are insured, tell them about United Policyholders, a consumer protection nonprofit that does not sell anything and provides information about insurance claims to insureds at no cost: www.uphelp.org
- If you want to donate money to a charity, you may want to wait to see which charities are actually doing the work you want to see happen. Some charities may legally use those funds for other things. Communities after disaster will need help for years; you have time to determine the best charities to support.
- And because “recovery” takes two or many more years, your offers of help may be even more important in six months, a year, or more. Or they may be somewhat surprising–but understandable–requests.
- And see First Steps After a Wildfire. Tell your fire survivor loved ones about it and help them with those tasks as possible.
Neighbors Together ~ Strong & Resilient does not provide any advice or endorse any service provider or agency.