I spent two days volunteering for the aftermath from the Wolsey wild fire. Quite an experience. It was a good feeling to help out people who were literally devastated by the tragedy.
I also took away some observations:
- trailers are equally vulnerable to wildfires as they are to hurricanes.
- it is a smart idea to own a safe. Hours of helping homeowners sift through ashes for whatever survived the fire showed safes are the way to go. Sure they provide safekeeping against burglary, but they also e it possible to easily retrieve after earthquakes, fires, floods, mudslides, and hurricanes. For apartment buildings or remote houses, i am guessing a 2 hour safe is the way to go. Very very few items survived houses which burned to the ground.
- evacuate when you are told to, right away
- if you want a simple way to help out: pile a car full of everyday stuff and drive right towards the disaster area. keep asking and you will find the volunteer headquarters. It may not seem like much, but to someone who instantly finds themselves with no home and no possessions even a half a role of toilet paper and a few cans of food can mean a lot. it wouldn’t be hard to fill a car up with stuff from you and your neighbors. the ordeal does not end for victims when the fire is out–as you can imagine.
- Get Red Cross on-line training for disaster relief. The first aid portion of the training alone can be (quite literally) a lifesaver. The simple courses on how to fit into a disaster relief effort are interesting and highly applicable to volunteering. I even found the organizational method useful for local community activities (like fund raisers, event planning etc).
- One resident had the fore-sight to leave a wrench next to his gas meter, attached with a wire. As a rescue worker, it was a simple matter to close off this person’s gas valve so residual gas did not leak out and cause problems when the metal was getting cut way.