Friday, November 30, 2007

CA Fmworkers Struggle After Fires

Wildfires leave farmworkers in precarious financial situation.
BY VICKI DESORMIER SAN DIEGO November 14, 2007 /Disaster News Network

Picking through the charred leaves and crisp remains of fruit and flowers, growers and farmworkers in San Diego County may feel alone in the fields.

Each farmer has had to take a look at the wildfire damage to his crops and make the hard decisions about how to handle the situation and get back on the road to recovery. For farmworkers, their road back to recovery will be especially long and difficult.

Eric Larson, executive director of the San Diego County Farm Bureau, said there are few agencies offering fire recovery planning assistance to area growers.

"They're pretty much on their own," he said.

Larson's organization recognizes that each farm and nursery has been affected in a unique way because of the way natural disasters grab with indiscriminate fingers at one location while ignoring other spots nearby.

Overall, he estimated, the county's $1.5 billion agricultural industry suffered a $42 million loss from the recent wildfires. At some farms, there was only minor damage. At others, there was 100 percent loss.

For those who work in the fields and whose livelihood depends on the crops, the fires imposed a more personal toll. Most live paycheck to paycheck and income lost during the fires has left the already struggling workers in dire financial need.

Most of the workers in the San Diego area are permanent employees who work year-round, Larson said. Migrant workers are added to the rolls in the spring to pick strawberries and in late summer to harvest tomatoes.

The rest live in the urban areas of the county.

"Many of them are at an economic disadvantage already. They are in single paycheck houses and are either uninsured or underinsured," said Michelle Scott of the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR).

Scott said the employees are the ones who have been affected most immediately by the fires. Because of their fragile financial situation, they are quick to fall behind on their bills and to face homelessness for themselves and their families, she said.

The Farm Bureau and the Federal Emergency Management Agency are offering assistance to the farm owners and growers. Farmworkers were put out of work by the fires and were not paid while the farms and nurseries burned.

Even a short time without a paycheck is devastating to the workers, Scott said. Many have now returned to their places of employment to clean up and start over, but they have already fallen behind in their financial responsibilities, she said.

Larson said the full extent of the damage to crops won't be known for some time. Dawn Neilson, of the Department of Agriculture, Weights and Measures for San Diego County, said that the figures for losses for tomato, avocado and floral crops might not be compiled for several months.

"We have a preliminary figure about the losses at the farms and nurseries in the county, but we won't have the final figures for some time," she said.

Scott said the financial losses from the burned plants could be recovered within a year or two, but many of the farmworkers that lost what is often their only source of income will not bounce back so easily.

"They still have a roof over their heads because they live in areas that weren't affected by the fires," she said. "But they are just a few dollars away from homelessness in some cases because they haven't got enough money to keep going very long without work."

UMCOR has set up a variety of assistance programs designed to help farmworkers navigate through the difficult times. Donations were being solicited to help those who lost paychecks or who may have been injured by the fires while still at work.

"Many of the agricultural workers are either uninsured or underinsured," Scott said. "Some of them were hospitalized in addition to not having income during the recovery period."

She said that while the fires caused a great deal of financial woes for the agricultural industry in San Diego County, the human suffering was also great.

"We are helping people who have lost their livelihoods as well as those who are hurt and in need of medical care," she said. "We are doing what we can to make things easier."

Larson said the fires have been devastating in San Diego County. Because the blazes destroyed some properties while doing only minor damage or missing other properties, it is sometimes difficult to help relief organizations find the people who need help the most.

"We do our best," he said. "And the relief organizations that are here are doing a lot for the people who are in trouble. There's a lot to be done in San Diego County, but people like UMCOR are making a difference."

Finding Temporary Employment

In the rebuilding efforts after the wildfires, a number of short-term jobs may become available.

The U.S. Department of Labor has given a $50 million grant to the California Employment Development Department (EDD) to help counties affected by the wildfires. Part of this money will be used to create temporary jobs on projects related to cleanup, repair, and rebuilding in places damaged by the wildfires.
Additionally, as rebuilding continues in the coming months, more temporary jobs, especially those related to construction, will become available.

Check the EDD job website, job centers, and other online job websites for these types of jobs ( Job postings will be rolling in over the coming months, so check back regularly if you are looking for work.

Rebuilding After the Southern California Wildfires: What Consumers Should Look Out For On Insurance

By Carmen BalberConsumer Advocate
Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights

As consumer advocates, the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights has joined state Senator Dean Florez to offer advice to consumers affected by wildfires across Southern California, and caution policymakers to watch the insurance industry closely to protect consumers as the fires subside and rebuilding begins.

Can homeowners rebuild?

After the 2003 fires, many homeowners discovered that their insurance coverage would not fully repair or replace their homes. The 2007 fires will be the test of whether insurance companies corrected the problems of the past and lived up to the obligation to provide adequate coverage to homeowners. If insurers fail the test, legislation will be necessary to hold insurance companies responsible for setting adequate policy limits for homeowners.

Premiums should not go up

Insurance companies have made enough money in California to cover any losses from the current fires. Profits for California homeowners insurers are estimated at $6 billion between 2004 and 2006. In fact, homeowners insurance companies have been reducing rates over the last year because loss ratios – the amount insurers pay customers in claims – had reached record lows. Allstate Insurance is the only major insurer bucking that trend and is currently subject to a Department of Insurance investigation of its request to increase rates.Consumers pay premiums diligently month after month to be protected in the event of disaster. Rates that were adequate the week before the fires should not go up now that the expected has occurred. Regulators should have a zero tolerance policy for rate hikes in the wake of the fires.

Non-renewal not an option

Everyone in a disaster area should be protected from losing their insurance coverage. However, many insurers nationally have adopted cut and run policies that find them leaving areas they consider risky just as customers need their protection the most.

A law passed after the 2003 fires prevents insurance companies from canceling coverage for at least one policy period for California consumers whose homes are damaged during a declared emergency. However, insurers may still pull out of an area that was threatened during the emergency. Consumers who were for example evacuated but whose homes were not harmed are not protected. The Insurance Commissioner and lawmakers should make sure that families in the communities affected by the fires, whether or not they sustained damage, don’t lose their coverage.

The first offer isn’t the only offer Insurance companies have responded to the fire areas in force, promising quick resolution of homeowners’ claims. Lawmakers and regulators will be responsible for making sure that attention continues when the television cameras go home. Consumers should know they have the right to fair resolution of their claim. Homeowners can visit for the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights’ disaster checklist of who to talk to, what records to keep, and when they may need outside help when filing a claim.Policyholders who are having difficulty with their insurance claim should contact the Department of Insurance Consumer Hotline at 1-800-927-HELP (4357).

Consumer Advocate Carmen Balber has been with the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights for over six years. She holds a B.A. in Politics from Pomona College.

FREE Wi-Fi for SoCal Wildfires Impacted Residents

AT&T Offers Free Wi-Fi Access in Southern California

Company Provides Free Wi-Fi Connectivity at Nearly 600 Hot Spot Locations Across Seven Counties

To help California residents affected by the fires stretching across Southern California, AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T) today announced that AT&T Wi-Fi service will be offered free of charge at nearly 600 hot spot locations across Riverside, San Diego, San Bernardino, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, Orange and Ventura counties.

Residents will have free access to the AT&T Wi-Fi service 24 hours a day beginning tomorrow, Saturday, Oct. 27.

"We want to help residents in Southern California in any way that we can," said Denise Cunningham, vice president and general manager for AT&T in San Diego. "By enabling free Wi-Fi at hundreds of AT&T hot spot locations, we're hoping to provide families and friends with another way to stay connected — and to reconnect — throughout this difficult time."

Residents or travelers can use Wi-Fi-enabled devices, such as laptop computers, iPhones or personal digital assistants (PDAs) to connect to the Internet or corporate networks by using any of the AT&T Wi-Fi locations.

From e-mailing to instant messaging and getting news online, Wi-Fi customers will be able to continuously access the Internet via the designated hot spot locations, at no cost, through the coming weeks as many try to reconnect in the aftermath of the fires.

"Our commitment is to leverage whatever communications support that we can to aid families and residents affected by these fires," said Cunningham. "We welcome and invite anyone in need to use AT&T's Wi-Fi network in these hot spot locations — we are here to help."

Customers can view a full list of AT&T Wi-Fi hot spots in California by visiting

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Dogs from California Wildfires Need Homes

Dogs from California Wildfires Need Homes
Dogs now available for adoption in Colorado
Dogs now available for adoption in Colorado
Tuesday, 27 Nov 2007, 6:06 AM MST
Dogs need homes

Dozens of dogs from Southern California are available for adoption into new homes in Colorado.

66 dogs were taken from crowded shelters and brought here last weekend.
Organizers say most of them came from loving families who lost their homes in the devastating wildfires.

The dogs are available at the Denkai Animal Sanctuary in Carr, which is in northern Weld County. The phone number is (970) 897-3122. The address is:

10375 Weld County Road 118

Local Assistance Center To Serve Malibu Area Fire Victims

FEMA Release Date: November 26, 2007
Release Number: 1731-049

PASADENA, Calif. -- The state of California, along with county and city officials, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will open a Local Assistance Center (LAC) near the Malibu area scorched by the fire that began on Saturday.

The LAC will be located at the Malibu Bluffs Park, 24250 Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu.

The center will open on Tuesday, Nov. 27 at 9 a.m. Hours are from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday; 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday; and from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday. The center will operate through Friday, December 7.

"The Malibu center will serve anyone affected by the fire who may need recovery information," said Federal Coordinating Officer Mike Hall of FEMA. "We want to be sure that we’ve reached fire-affected residents in the Malibu area who may have questions on available disaster recovery assistance or FEMA registration."

Fire victims are encouraged to register with FEMA before they visit the LAC by calling the FEMA toll-free number: 1‑800‑621‑FEMA (3362) or TTY 1-800-462-7585. Online registering is also available at The deadline to apply is Jan. 9, 2008.

At the Malibu LAC, those affected by the fire can get information on:

~FEMA rental assistance and emergency home repairs;

~U.S. Small Business Administration low-interest disaster loans for homeowners, renters and businesses of all sizes;

~Additional state grants to help with rental assistance, emergency home repairs, and other needs;

~National Flood Insurance to guard against losses from mudslides where vegetation has burned;

~Disaster unemployment assistance;

~Crisis counseling information; and

~Advice on insurance matters.

FEMA coordinates the federal government’s role in preparing for, preventing, mitigating the effects of, responding to, and recovering from all domestic disasters, whether natural or man-made, including acts of terror.

State Grant Program Gives Funds to California Wildfire Victims

FEMA Release Date: November 28, 2007
Release Number: 1731-050

PASADENA, Calif. -- The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) has begun awarding grants to individuals and households through the State Supplemental Grant Program (SSGP), officials with the Governor's Office of Emergency Services (OES) announced today.

The State of California's SSGP may provide assistance to those who have additional eligible losses after receiving the maximum grant award from the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) Individuals and Households Program.

So far, nearly $1.3 million in grants have been approved, with the majority of those being the maximum grant award of $10,000.

"These additional funds provided by the California Department of Social Services will assist many Californians who were the unfortunate victims of these devastating wildfires," said CDSS Director John Wagner.

"We are proud to be one of the few states that have a state grant for disasters, one that supplements the federal dollars to help individuals and families rebuild from such a devastating loss," said Henry Renteria, Director of OES and State Coordinating Officer for the fire recovery effort.

There is no separate application process and applications will be forwarded from FEMA to CDSS. The state grants will not duplicate benefits. The maximum grant from the State is $10,000.

Every recipient receives a letter from CDSS prior to receiving the money outlining the following categories for using the funds.

Housing - such as:

~Repairs to return the home to a safe and functional condition: These may include repairs to windows, doors, water and ventilation systems, or other structural parts of a home;

~Reimbursement for hotel or motel lodging expenses if their home was damaged as a direct result of the disaster: Receipts for these expenses are required; and

~Rebuilding a home that has been completely destroyed.

Personal Property - such as:
~Specialized tools for employment;
~Household items and appliances;
~Vehicle repair or replacement;
~Medical, dental and funeral expenses; and
~Moving expenses and other disaster-related needs.

Rental Assistance:

Applicants who must remain in temporary housing until their home can be re-occupied or their permanent housing arrangements can be made may request additional rental assistance. Applicants must provide verification of their permanent housing progress and can only receive rental assistance up to their SSGP maximum.

State grants are tax-free and are not loans. They are not counted as income for welfare or for other federal and/or state benefit programs and cannot be garnished.

All expenditures must be disaster-related. If not, the recipient may have to pay back the grant, and may lose eligibility for further help. Grants are subject to audit and recipients are strongly encouraged to fully document their disaster-related expenses. They must keep receipts or bills for three years to demonstrate how all the money was used in meeting disaster-related needs.

FEMA coordinates the federal government's role in preparing for, preventing, mitigating the effects of, responding to, and recovering from all domestic disasters, whether natural or man-made, including acts of terror.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Vets & Vet Facilities Offering FREE or Reduced Cost Services for 2007 SoCal Animals

San Diego County Veterinary Medical Association

Veterinarians & Veterinary Facilities Offering Free or Reduced Fee Services
Related to Firestorm 2007 As of 10-30/07

Country Pet Clinic 2525 Alpine Blvd Alpine 91901 619/445-9815

Otay Lakes Veterinary Clinic 736 Otay Lakes Rd Chula Vista 91910 619/482-2000

Rolling Hills Pet Hospital 2457 Fenton St Chula Vista 91914 619/656-6400

Parkway Pet Hospital 8200 Parkway Dr La Mesa 91942 619/463-9151

California Veterinary Specialists 2310 Faraday Ave Carlsbad 92008 760/431-2273

Jamacha Veterinary Clinic 693 Jamacha Rd El Cajon 92019 619/579-0377

Animal Medical Center of East County 600 Broadway Ave El Cajon 92021 619/444-4246

Animal Urgent Care & Specialty Grp 2430 S Escondido Blvd Ste A Escondido 92025 760/738-9600

California Veterinary Specialists 100 N Rcho Santa Fe Rd San Marcos 92069 760/734-4433

San Marcos Veterinary Clinic 145 S Rancho Sante Fe Rd San Marcos 92078 760/744-5400

Countryside Veterinary Hospital 29209 Cole Grade Rd Valley Ctr 92082 760/749-3656

Colina Veterinary Hospital 5530 University Ave San Diego 92105 619/286-3360
Shelter Island Veterinary Hospital 1270 Scott St San Diego 92106 619/222-0597

Grand Animal Hospital 1033 Grand Ave San Diego 92109 858/272-1320

Morena Pet Hospital 1540 Morena Blvd San Diego 92110 619/275-0888

Ark Animal Hospital 6171 Balboa Ave San Diego 92111 858/277-3665

Animal Internal Medicine 5610 Kearny Mesa Rd Ste B San Diego 92111 858/560-7778

Veterinary Surgical Specialists of SD 5610 Kearny Mesa Rd Ste B San Diego 92111 858/560-8006

Kensington Veterinary Hospital 3817 Adams Ave San Diego 92116 619/584-8418

Mission Gorge Animal Hospital 6690 Mission Gorge Rd Ste M San Diego 92120 619/280-1503

Companion Animal Clinic 1215 S Escondido Blvd Ste A Escondido 92025 760/743-2751

Center Veterinary Clinic 8977 Mira Mesa Blvd San Diego 92126 858/271-1152

Carmel Mtn Ranch Veterinary Hospital 11925 Carmel Mtn Rd Ste 802 San Diego 92128 858/592-9779

Penasquitos Pet Clinic 9728 Carmel Mtn Rd Ste E San Diego 92129 858/484-1260

California Veterinary Specialists 25100 Hancock Ave Ste 116 Murrieta 92562 951/600-9803

IRS eases tax timeline for those in burn areas

10-30-07 / Union Tribune

The Internal Revenue Service yesterday gave residents of California counties hit by wildfires additional time to file tax returns.

The agency said those affected by the fires will have until Jan. 31 to file returns and pay taxes on items due on or after Oct. 21, when the fires began. Those items include the federal withholding tax return, Form 941, normally due Oct. 31, and the estimated tax payment for the fourth quarter, normally due Jan. 15.

Taxpayers in seven counties covered by a presidential disaster declaration are eligible for the delay. Those counties are San Diego, Riverside, Orange, Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Santa Barbara and Ventura.

Certain penalty deposits due between Oct. 21 and Nov. 5 will also be waived as long as the deposits are made by Monday, the IRS said.

The IRS said its computers identify taxpayers in the disaster areas and apply automatic filing and payment relief. The agency said taxpayers in the areas also have the option of claiming disaster-related casualty losses on their federal income tax return for either this year or last year.

The state Franchise Tax Board also announced yesterday that taxpayers affected by the wildfires in any of the federally declared disaster areas will be given special tax relief.

For more information, taxpayers can check the Franchise Tax Board's Web site at People who have questions about their accounts can call (800) 852-5711 from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday

Non-Citizens May Be Eligible for Disaster Recovery Aid

FEMA Release Date: November 2, 2007
Release Number: 1731-007

PASADENA, Calif. -- People who are not U.S. citizens may be eligible for disaster assistance through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) following the California wildfires that began in October.

Disaster assistance is available to residents and businesses in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernadino, San Diego, Santa Barbara, and Ventura counties, which were designated disaster areas by President Bush.

The aid is available to U.S. citizens, non-citizen nationals, and qualified aliens. Their immigration status will not be jeopardized by applying for FEMA assistance.

Qualified aliens include:

-Legal permanent residents (those with green cards);
-Those with refugee or asylum status;
-Those whose deportation has been withheld;
-Those on parole into the U.S. for at least one year for humanitarian purposes;
-Those with conditional entry;
-Cuban-Haitian entrants; and
-Those with petitions for relief based on battery or extreme cruelty by a family member.
-Non-citizen parents of a minor child who is a U.S. citizen can apply for assistance on the child's behalf. The guardian only certifies for the child. No information will be gathered on the adult's status.

The application for assistance from the FEMA requires applicants to certify that they are U.S. citizens, non-citizen nationals, or qualified aliens. FEMA conducts random audits of applications to verify U.S. citizenship and qualified alien documentation issued by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. However, assistance can be given as long as someone in the household has qualified. No information will be gathered regarding the status of others in the household.

Assistance for eligible individuals and households includes funds for temporary housing and necessary home repairs, funds for the repair or replacement of personal property and other disaster-related needs, disaster unemployment assistance, low-interest loans for homeowners, renters and businesses from the U.S. Small Business Administration, and other programs.

Undocumented immigrants affected by the wildfires may still be eligible for programs run by state, local or voluntary agencies. They may also be eligible for short-term, non-cash aid from FEMA, such as disaster legal services, crisis counseling, food, water, and shelter.

Some Treasures Can Be Saved From Soot and Ash Damage

FEMA Release Date: November 3, 2007
Release Number: 1731-012

PASADENA, Calif. -- Among the tragedies left behind by fire is the loss of family valuables. Guidelines from Heritage Preservation and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) may help residents and businesses salvage some keepsake items from the recent wildfires.

Cherished heirlooms that survive a fire are often covered with soot and ash, requiring prompt and gentle attention to avoid further damage. The following tips for cleaning soot and ash are based on the experience of respected conservation professionals who care for our nation's treasures in museums and libraries.
· Safety first! Avoid skin or lung irritation. Wear plastic or rubber gloves, an N95 mask, and goggles during cleanup.

· Get started promptly. The longer soot or ash sits on a surface, the more damage it does.

· Handle objects as little as possible. If you must move them, use a tray or hanger, and grasp them in places that are normally hidden from view.

· Resist the urge to wipe soot and ash-covered surfaces with a clean cloth; wiping will embed the soot and ash in the object and make it much more difficult to recover.

· Remove soot and ash with a vacuum on the lowest setting. Do not let the nozzle touch the object and do not use a brush attachment; let the wand float over the surface.

· After vacuuming, you may need to clean the object with a soot sponge, which can be purchased at major hardware stores. Unlike other sponges, these are used dry. Lay the sponge on the surface, press gently, and lift without rubbing. Cut off sections as they become dirty.

· If soot and ash are wet – from fire hose water or a burst pipe - don't do anything to remove the objects from wet surfaces. Attempting to remove them will cause further damage. Get advice from a professional.

· Do not rinse sooty or ash-covered treasures.

· When cleaning textiles, do not unfold them - this will only disperse the soot.

· Call in a pro. If a valuable family treasure is badly damaged, a professional conservator may be able to help. The American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works has a free referral service 202-452-9545 or The Regional Alliance for Preservation 800-843-8482 or has information on preservation services.

Federal and State Officials Remind Farmers and Ranchers in Southern California to Apply for Emergency Loan Assistance

Applications Now Being Accepted

FEMA Release Date: November 3, 2007
Release Number: 1731-013

PASADENA, Calif. -- Farmers, growers and ranchers who have suffered damages or loss of livestock structures, such as fences and barns, livestock, poultry, nursery stock, orchards and fields are encouraged to apply for funding through the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Crop Disaster Program (CDP) and utilize state assistance for victims of natural disasters.

Although it's still too early to know the full extent of the loss and injury from the wildfires, state and federal officials are anticipating widespread wind, heat and fire damage to nursery, grove and field crops including avocados, oranges, lemons, evergreen trees, wine grapes, pumpkins, strawberries and potted plants.

Farmers and growers who suffered quantity losses to their crops in recent years can now enroll in the Crop Disaster Program 2005-2007 at local Farm Service Agency (FSA) service centers.

Subject to final rules for the program, CDP provides benefits to farmers who suffered losses to the 2005-2007 crops from natural disasters like the Southern California wildfires.

Producers must have suffered quantity losses in excess of 35 percent to be eligible for CDP. The payment rate is set at 42 percent of the established price. Assistance, together with any crop insurance or Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program payment received for the same crop and including the value of the crop production not lost, must not exceed 95 percent of the total value of the crop absent the disaster.

FSA offices may accept information from producers about quality losses when producers submit applications for quantity losses. However, FSA will only consider quality loss applications complete after FSA announces the quality loss sign-up date. FSA will not consider applications completed for any loss, including quantity losses, until a final rule has been issued for this program.

John Smythe, Executive Director of USDA's Farm Service Agency in California confirmed his commitment to working with his state counterparts to bring relief, "As the FSA director in charge of assessing agricultural damage, I will be touring and inspecting the damaged areas and reporting back to Washington, D.C., my observations and recommendations for assistance," said Smythe. "I look forward to working closely with the CDFA staff, the county agricultural commissioners, and the Governor's Office of Emergency Services to coordinate requests for assistance."

California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) has been assisting dairy farms within the region to continue milk shipments to processors by coordinating with the California Department of Transportation and the California Highway Patrol to allow trucks through restricted thoroughfares. CDFA and the San Diego emergency operations center have also been facilitating movement of feed trucks through roadblocks for several chicken ranches in that county. CDFA veterinarians remain deployed in Southern California on high alert standby in preparedness for more fires that could result in strong weekend winds.

CDFA secretary A.G. Kawamura echoed that sentiment. "Weather-related catastrophes have been setbacks in the past, but our industry remains strong and resilient. I have confidence that the indomitable spirit of California farmers, growers and ranchers will prevail through this calamity and enable them to reestablish their livelihoods. As people begin to rebuild their lives and businesses after these devastating wildfires, I'm mobilizing CDFA to assist them in any way possible."

Primary counties affected: Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, Santa Barbara, and Ventura; contiguous counties: Imperial, Inyo, Kern, and San Luis Obispo, La Paz, and Mohave in Arizona, and Clark County Nevada.

Don't Be a Victim Twice

Be Aware of Possible Frauds or Scams

FEMA Release Date: November 4, 2007
Release Number: 1731-014

PASADENA, Calif. -- In the wake of the devastating California fires, those who have suffered damages and losses may be visited or called by someone claiming to be an official disaster aid worker or inspector.

State and federal officials caution residents to check the identification of anyone wanting to enter their home or property and to watch out for scams and fraud that may surface.

"FEMA is dedicated to helping those affected by these life-changing fires rebuild their lives," said Federal Coordinating Officer Mike Hall of FEMA. "It is shameful that some would choose to take advantage of disaster victims during a time when so many are offering their generosity to those who have suffered."

"The Governor, the Attorney General and other state officials have made it clear that fraud and other attempts to take advantage of fire survivors will not be tolerated," said State Coordinating Officer Henry Renteria of the Governor's Office of Emergency Services (OES). "I urge those who have been affected by the fires to error on the side of caution."

It is important that residents carefully check the photo identification of FEMA inspectors, U.S. Small Business Administration loss verifiers, and insurance adjusters who may be visiting their homes. All inspectors are required to carry a photo ID. Residents who have questions concerning the authenticity of a credential should contact their local law enforcement officials.

California residents need to be aware of some common ploys, such as phone calls from people claiming to be with FEMA and asking for personal information. Never casually give out any personal information over the phone. If you have any doubts about the caller, call them back to make verification.

Those beginning the rebuilding process can get tips on hiring contractors and how to avoid contractor fraud by going online at You can also check to see if a contractor is licensed at the same online address or by calling 1-800-321-2752.

FEMA encourages anyone who believes she or he may have witnessed fraudulent activity to report it immediately through the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General's hotline: 1-800-323-8603 or the California Consumer Protection hotline: 1-800-952-5210.

Another helpful information resource for those rebuilding their lives is online at

Disaster Aid Means No Loss Of Benefits For Those Receiving Social Security

FEMA Release Date: November 7, 2007
Release Number: 1731-021

PASADENA, Calif. -- Californians who receive Social Security should not be concerned that applying for, or receiving, state and federal disaster-related financial assistance may cause them to sacrifice their benefits.

"A state or federal grant will not add to taxable income, as long as the grant is given as assistance to recover from a disaster," said State Coordinating Officer Henry Renteria of the Governor's Office of Emergency Services (OES). "This means that receiving disaster aid will not affect Social Security benefits."

Additionally, disaster grants will not affect income levels to the point where a senior would no longer be eligible for Medicaid, welfare assistance, or food stamps. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grants are not repaid by the recipient.

Those who suffered damages and losses as a result of the recent California wildfires should register with FEMA to find out about services that may be available to them.

To apply for federal and state assistance, call FEMA at 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or (TTY) 1-800-462-7585. Lines are open 24-hours, daily until further notice. Disaster victims may also register online at

After applying with FEMA, disaster victims may receive, in the mail, a U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Disaster Loan Application. To be considered for other forms of disaster assistance, it is important to complete and submit the SBA application.

Those who receive a disaster loan application, and have questions, can contact SBA at 1-800-659-2955 or TTY 1-800-877-8339 or visit: They also can go to any disaster assistance center (see attached list of all disaster assistance centers) to get help filling out the application.

Motel Vouchers for SoCal Wildfire Survivors

Interfaith Community Services:

Providing Motel Accommodation Vouchers

Escondido 760-489-6380


Oceanside: 760-721-2117

Maranatha Chapel is Offering FREE Help with Housing for SoCal Wildfire Survivors

Many families in North County San Diego have lost their homes in the recent fires, and some have contacted us looking for potential homes to rent. We would like to help connect people who need to rent a home while they are rebuilding, with homeowners who have houses to rent.

For example, we know of at least one family who needs a five bedroom home. If you are a homeowner with an available house, please contact us with the following information:

~Size and location of home
~Type of dwelling (house, condo, duplex, etc.)
~Duration of availability (six months, one year, or?)
~Approximate amount of monthly rent

We will not give out your name and number to anyone until we have contacted you.

If you are someone in need of a home, please contact us with the following information:

~Size needed (how many bedrooms, etc.)
~How many people will live in the home, and their ages
~If you have pets and what kind
~Range of rent you can afford
~Preferred area
~How long you will need the home, if you know
~During this difficult time, people who have already suffered loss are facing price gouging and unethical business practices as some try to take advantage of a dire situation. Our desire is to help those in need find housing at fair prices to both parties involved.

Pastor Ray and the entire Maranatha Chapel staff would like to extend our concern for those in need and our condolences for those suffering loss. We are here to help!

You can contact us at: or call:


Maranatha Chapel
10752 Coastwood Road, San Diego, CA 92127

Attention San Diego Realtors

The San Diego Association of REALTORS® would like to express our deepest sympathies to those who have been affected by the wildfires in our region and wish to assist fellow San Diegans and REALTORS®.

If you need help:

* If you have been impacted or know someone who has been impacted by the fires, please contact Lisa Laguire at (858) 715-8005 or e-mail

* SDAR is developing a program to assist REALTOR® members whose principal residence has been significantly or completely destroyed by the fires. Details coming soon. For a temporary housing list go to

* The California Association of REALTORS® C.A.R. is offering grants $1,000 to $5,000 to REALTOR® members and their families. Visit, or contact Elizabeth De Cateret at (213) 739-8308 or e-mail

If you want to help:

* Temporary Housing List - SDAR is identifying temporary housing sources. Please provide information on available housing, include location, type of property, number of bedrooms, pet policy, start and length of availability, furnished or unfurnished, monthly cost and lease term. Send info to or call (858) 715-8026

* To help SDAR members and California REALTORS® - If you would like to donate, please contact

* Visit for updated information and resources

Free Life Coaching for So. Calif. Fire Survivors

Were you impacted by the fire? Are you still reeling with all of the changes this has caused in your life? Over 40 life coaches have joined together to offer their services to survivors of the SouthernCalifornia Wildfires. The group consists of practicing life-coaches who are graduates of the Coaches Training Institute (CTI:

Pro-bono (that means free) programs we areoffering:

o Three months of free weekly coaching sessions with your own personal coach

o "Catch your breath": Free Coach-facilitated Sunday evening group conversations.

Please contact Stephanie Monroe @ (415) 370-5493

San Diego Wildfires Blanket Project

During the week of October 21, 2007, 1588 homes were destroyed in the seven fires that raged throughout San Diego County. In an effort to make blankets for community members who lost their homes, we are collecting donations of 8" knit or crocheted squares. _e squares need to be:

• Machine washable & dryable, made preferably from worsted-weight acrylic yarn.
• Please enclose a note letting us know the fiber content if the yarn used is not 100% acrylic.
• Pattern is your choice - knit or crochet. Have fun with it!
• If you would like to enclose a note, a prayer, well wishes, please do!• If you would like to help join the squares together, please edge squares in single crochet first, then join by mattress stitch, whip stitch, or single crochet into strips 7 blocks long.

Finished squares or strips can be sent to:

GeorgeAnne Smith
San Diego Wild Fire Blankets
PO Box 261859
San Diego, CA 92126

We would really love to get blankets to every family for the holidays, but as we learned with the Cedar Fires of 2003, the rebuilding process is a slow and steady one. Therefore, starting in November 2007, our goal is to deliver at least 25 blankets to families each month. We hope this goal is an underestimate and can be exceeded!

You can follow our progress at:

If you know someone who lost their home, please visit the blog to download a nomination form. If you have any questions, please feel free to e-mail:

Thank you for your support!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

INTUIT Offers Free Or Replacement Software & Services

INTUIT offers free or replacement software & services:

INTUIT Software is offering assistance to those affected by the wildfires. Their offer includes free replacement software, technical support, supplies such as checks, and a lot more!

Check it out at

FREE Pampering for Fire Survivors & Rescue Workers!

The Poway Academy at:

13266 Poway Rd. offering complimentary spa services throughout November 2007 to those who lost their homes to the recent fires. This includes hair services, manicures, pedicures and facials.

You must make an appointment in advance and bring your Red Cross voucher, insurance claim # or other documentation.

Free Hatha Yoga classes are being offered through Thanksgiving through:

Affirmations Body, Spa & Yoga Studio
12222 & 12234 Poway Rd Suite 14 & 200

For more info call 858-513-0034

Bridget Malcolm at Akin To Skin is offering free aesthetician and massage therapist services to firefighters and police officers to thank them for their hard work.

For fire victims she is offering a 50% discount on massage and 25% off on facials to help in healing and relaxation.

Call 619-990-4500 for more info

So. Baptist Convention Assistance for 2007 SoCal Wildfires

Southern Baptist Convention San Diego County Wildfires Operations:

Currently feeding 50,000 meals a day to fire evacuees and responders;

Cleanup operations; homeowners MUST have their insurance adjuster come in before anyone steps foot onto the property to help sift or do any kind of clearing;

Priority system for providing help:

Priority 1 – Homeowner who have insurance.
Priority 2 – Homeowners who have no insurance.
Priority 3 – Rental Occupants

Forms to request FREE help from the Southern Baptist organization in sifting and cleaning can be accessed at:

Property Clean-up:

If you'd like to request Southern Baptist Disaster Relief help in property cleanup, please follow these steps:

1. First, make arrangements for a FEMA inspector to visit your property and clear it for cleanup.

2. Next, arrange for your insurance company to send an adjustor to the property.

3. Then, fill out the following form and return it to Vision San Diego or the San Diego Association (see contact info on the right). Feel free to submit the form at any time, but cleanup work cannot begin until steps 1 and 2 are completed.

For the forms go to:

Contact Information:

Vision San Diego
Contact: Anne Decker
858.444.4439 (FAX)
7220 Trade Street, Suite 105
San Diego, CA 92121

San Diego Southern Baptist Association
Contact: Pat Lalond
619.275.5267 (FAX)
4608 Gardena Avenue
San Diego, CA 92110

Red Cross spent millions accommodating nonresident volunteers during wildfires
By Maureen Magee
November 10, 2007

Volunteers from as far away as Alaska, Hawaii and New York are packing up and leaving San Diego County, as the largest Red Cross disaster relief effort since Hurricane Katrina winds down in fire-ravaged Southern California.

Davis said she was turned away at other sites because of the mass of nonresident volunteers. More than 5,200 Red Cross workers, including 2,509 who came to San Diego County from all 50 states, helped wildfire evacuees in Southern California. By the end of the weekend, about 100 will remain in the county as the recovery work is handed off to locals.

Shortly after fires began burning out of control last month, the local Red Cross called its national office for help. Officials in Washington, D.C., launched a 16-day deployment of registered volunteers.

They prepared for the worst. As a result, they may have overstaffed the effort.
“If I had the whole thing to do over . . . I probably would have brought in fewer (volunteers), but I didn't have the hindsight I do now,” said Joe Becker, senior vice president of disaster services for the national Red Cross headquarters. “In the early days, I was worried. I didn't know how bad it was going to get.”

Even more so than hurricanes, tornados and floods, fires are perhaps the most unpredictable disasters to manage, Red Cross officials said. And the Southern California wildfires were especially tough to gauge.

Fueled by powerful Santa Ana winds, the series of blazes in the county began Oct. 21 and forced 600,000 residents from their homes. The fires killed at least nine people and destroyed nearly 1,700 homes. Other wildfires hopscotched a path of destruction north to Santa Barbara.

Although the relief effort relied on volunteers, costs added up.

Officials have yet to tally expenses for the effort, but the Red Cross estimates that its average daily cost per volunteer – based on a 10-day stay – was $139. That includes shared hotel rooms and rental cars, airfare, meals and incidentals.

More than 2,500 nonresidents volunteered.Based on those figures, the out-of-town volunteers will cost the Red Cross more than $2.6 million.

Some local Red Cross volunteers question whether the money was well-spent. They say too many out-of-towners descended on the region, pushing aside capable residents.

“It was all very frustrating because I wanted to help,” said Mira Mesa resident Marcia Davis, who volunteered at the Red Cross relief efforts after Hurricanes Rita and Katrina. “San Diegans like to help out fellow San Diegans, but it seems like everyone was from someplace else.”

Local Red Cross officials turned to the national headquarters as the enormity of the disaster became apparent.

“We integrate our people in with the direction of the national director,” said Joe Craver, interim CEO of the San Diego/Imperial Counties chapter of the American Red Cross.

Local and national Red Cross officials said they were unaware of any discontent, and locals have priority in relief work.

Although many local volunteers were evacuating their own homes, hundreds sprung into action early in the disaster.

In the first two days of the fires, all Red Cross volunteers – 135 on the first day and 225 on the second – were from the chapter serving San Diego and Imperial counties. On the third day, 1,505 local volunteers were aided by 113 out-of-towners sent by the national headquarters, according to Red Cross data.

But by Oct. 27, all but 14 of the 1,584 Red Cross volunteers were from out of town.

The number of locally based volunteers has been rising since the beginning of the month.

Officials point out that the national effort relies on volunteers who are specially trained to carry out 37 jobs – everything from food preparation and warehouse management to nursing and mental health care.

High-end arrangementsThe total cost of the Red Cross' disaster relief for the Southern California wildfires is estimated at $12 million to $15 million, officials said. About three-quarters of that will be used in San Diego County.

About $15.7 million has been donated to the Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund specifically for Southern California wildfire recovery. An additional $4.3 million in undesignated money has been given to the Disaster Relief Fund since the fires started. Expenses include the cost of providing shelter, food, clothing and counseling to evacuees.

The Red Cross estimates that it will provide financial assistance to about 2,000 families.

The Red Cross was criticized for housing some volunteers in luxury venues, such as the Hotel del Coronado, La Costa Resort and high-end Hiltons. Becker, however, noted that the organization negotiated sharply discounted room rates. Still, Becker said the high-end accommodations were inappropriate.

For some local volunteers, word of the swanky resort stays for their out-of-town counterparts strained already-tense relationships. But mostly, the locals were upset that their offers of help were turned down.

Cameron Peter of Point Loma had volunteered for the Red Cross during the deadly 2003 Cedar fire and wanted to lend a hand once again. Like Davis, the volunteer from Mira Mesa, Peter said she was sent on several assignments that fizzled.

“I'm not sure why I kept going back,” Peter said. “I felt like they really didn't want me there, like I was in the way.”

Free Golf For Police, Firefighters, Sherrifs To Say Thanks - Salt Creek Golf Club

Police, firefighters offered free golf Salt Creek Golf Club is offering free golf to all San Diego County police officers, sheriff's deputies and firefighters Monday through Nov. 18 to thank them for their work during the fires. The club is at:

525 Hunte Parkway
Chula Vista

Call (619) 482-4666, ext. 1 for reservations. For more information, go to:

LDS Volunteer Services Available For Wildfire Cleanup

Volunteer Services of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
San Diego County Fire Damages Clean-up

How We Can Help

Over 1200 homeowners in San Diego County have completely lost their homes due to the fires. Thousands of others have damage and clean up issues for which we would like to offer volunteer labor to assist in the effort.

Services we can provide:

Clean up of yards – the winds have blown tree limbs, leaves, ashes, and other debris into most of the yards surrounding the fires. While we can't haul off the debris, we can clean it up and organize it at curbside for pickup.

Fence damage – many wood fences have portions that have blown down. Panels or boards may have to be re-attached. Supporting posts may have sheared off, in which case new posts will need to be installed. Depending on the extent of damage we may be able to assist in repairing.

Blown over objects – many patio covers and awnings are sitting in yards upside down and sideways. They may just need to be reset or re-attached to the home. They may be damaged or destroyed and may need to be dismantled to be hauled away. Patio furniture and BBQ's may need to be righted. We can help.

Cleaning of walls and windows – many homes near homes that burned have smoke and ash on their windows. We can wash the windows and broom clean the soot off the walls. City ordinances prohibit the use of water that may go into the street to clean roofs or walls.

Patios, walkways and driveways - we can broom clean these areas of ashes, leaves, branches, and debris.

Trees down – many have trees or portions of trees that have fallen onto homes and into yards. We may be able to assist in cutting the fallen branches and stacking them for removal.

Broken sliding glass doors and windows – we can assist in boarding them up until glass replacement can be arranged.
Other: If there things you need done that are not on this list, call and we may be able to help.


We can't remove trees or large trunks.
We can provide labor but not the materials needed for the above services.
We do not have the resources to haul debris away.
We can't use water to clean soot and debris that may go into the public drains due to gov’t regulations.
Work requests will be handled in order of urgency.

Hotlines for help: 24/7 760-535-1257 858-602-7773

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Free Post Disaster Counseling - Palomar Family Counseling Service

Counseling Services:

The Palomar Family Counseling Service is offering free support groups for families with children who have emotional issues as a result of the Firestorm. The Groups began the week of October 29th. For a schedule and more information, please contact:

(858) 748-3610.

City of Poway Provides Sand and Sandbags for Fire Damaged Property

Press Release:

City of Poway Provides Sand and Sandbags for Fire Damaged Property
Posted Date: 11/6/2007

MICKEY CAFAGNA, Mayor MERRILEE BOYACK, Deputy Mayor BOB EMERY, Councilmember DON HIGGINSON, Councilmember BETTY REXFORD, Councilmember


Contact: Kevin QuinnStreets & Drainage Supervisor(858) 668-4711

Poway, CA – The City of Poway has placed sand and bags at four locations, to assist residents who sustained property damage due to the Witch Creek Fire. Sandbags can be used as an erosion control device. The empty bags are located in a trash container near the sand at each site. Remember to bring a shovel to fill the bags with sand. Sand and bags are available at the following sites:
  • Valle Verde Park: parking lot. The park is north of Espola Road;
  • Lake Poway Road: “overflow” parking lot on the right, approaching the Lake;
  • Midland Road: east side, across from the Train Barn at Old Poway Park;
  • Garden Road: south side, across from Garden Road Elementary School.
The Boy Scouts have volunteered to fill bags when they are able, so if you find bags already made, you are welcome to take them.

The Rebuild Escondido Assistance Center is Now OPEN



11/5 4:50 p.m. - The Rebuild Escondido Assistance Center is now open. Fire victims in Escondido and nearby unincorporated areas are urged to visit or call (760) 746-FIRE for information on federal funding, temporary shelter and how to rebuild.

National Conflict Resolution Center Offers Wildfire Survivors Mediation Services

National Conflict Resolution Center offers mediation services to fire victims In the aftermath of the southern California wildfires, many victims may find themselves in disputes along their paths to recovery. The National Conflict Resolution Center (NCRC) is a full service alternative dispute resolution provider qualified to resolve these challenges and is offering to do so at a low- or no-cost fee for fire victims.

Through mediation at NCRC, victims will get their questions answered in an environment where they can find an agreeable solution. NCRC can help fire victims avoid the hassles of court time and costs, allowing them to move forward with their lives. Disputes are common in the wake and recovery of such devastating events.

Examples include:

• Disputes over property lines
• Fire hydrant and water supply issues
• Code compliance issues
• Problems with the permitting process
• Disputes with building contractors
• Disputes over debris removal
• Lingering insurance issues

NCRC operates as a private, non-profit corporation. For more information or to schedule a mediation call NCRC at (619) 238-2400.

Information is also available at

FREE Laundry Services in Ramona, CA

Tide Clean Start is offering FREE laundry services to those who were affected by the fires in Ramona.

It's located behind:

Mountain View Community Church
1191 Meadowlark Way
(Hwy. 78 & Ash St.)
Mail: P.O. Box 302,
Ramona, CA 92065

This service is available NOW though Dec. 2nd

ATTN: Knitters/Crocheters - You Can Help W/The SD Wildfires Recovery Effort

My name is Georgeanne Smith and I live in San Diego and survived the Witch Creek Fire.

Our whole county is being ravaged by wildfires which are burning thousands of acres and have already caused millions of dollars of damage, and many people have lost their homes. These fires started on Sunday, Oct. 21 and are are now just reaching containment. Over 1,588 families lost their homes due to these fire storms and I knew, after being a victim of the Cedar Fire in 2003, that I could not just wait and rely on "someone else" to take care of my neighbors that were displaced.

As a member of the of the knitting and crocheting community here in San Diego (I manage a group of over 100 fiber crafters in Mira Mesa, I placed a plea for help in organizing an effort to make blankets for the families who lost their homes in the fires.I wanted to help them build their homes again and help them feel connected to the community by giving them something made with love. I was asking for donations of 8" acrylic knit or crocheted squares that we can sew together. (No cash please!).

I never expected the outpouring of support and generosity I have received. I have begun to receive not only these squares from the local San Diego community, but Arizona, Michigan, New York, the United Kingdom and Germany. My email is flooded daily with support from people asking how can they help us in San Diego. This is what knitters and crocheters do - we make things and give back to the community we are a part of. I would like your assistance in spreading the word. If you are willing, I would really appreciate it if you could put a post on your website about our efforts and let people know where they can donate squares, or let any other friends know who can reach a lot of knitters and crocheters.You can direct them to email: for more information and for the addresses where they can send the finished squares. You can read the whole story and follow our progress on our blog at:

And If you are interested in donating a square or two yourself, that would be awesome as well. Thanks so much in advance for your help.

GeorgeAnne Smith

Pet Loss Grief Support

Pet Owners Online Grieving Circle - Rainbow Bridge

There is a special place owners who lost pets to the wildfires can go to for comfort and grief counseling. It was originally set up by a very special earth angel, Ginny Brancato, when she lost her own pet many years ago and found nowhere to turn. It is a virtual pet cemetery where you can set up little "gravesites" for the furbabies you lost and other sections to help, including a Monday Night Candlelighting Ceremony where grievers can sign in and chat with others:

ABA Sets Up Toll-Free Legal Hotline

A toll-free legal hotline is now available for victims of the recent wildfires in Southern California. The line was created by the American Bar Association Young Lawyers Division in cooperation with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the State Bar of California and Foley & Lardner LLP.Fire victims who are unable to afford a lawyer may call the hotline at:

(866) 636-9041 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. PT;
messages may be left after this time.

Callers should identify that they are seeking fire-related legal assistance.The kind of legal help available includes:· Assistance in securing FEMA and other governmental benefits available to disaster victims· Assistance with insurance claims (life, medical, property, etc.)· Counseling on landlord/tenant problems· Assisting in consumer protection matters, remedies, and procedures·

Replacement of wills and other important legal documents destroyed in a major disaster through a 1978 agreement with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the ABA YLD has been called upon to provide legal assistance to victims of natural disasters. When the president declares a "major disaster," the ABA YLD mobilizes lawyers to coordinate volunteer activities through hotlines or by staffing disaster recovery centers in the hardest-hit counties.In addition to the hotline, the ABA and the State Bar of California have created comprehensive Web sites listing disaster resources: and .

County Begins Free Cleanup Campaign

By Bruce Lieberman
November 9, 2007

FALLBROOK – At a mobile home park devastated by the Rice Canyon fire, the county yesterday launched an aggressive campaign to clear hazardous waste and debris from properties countywide that burned in the recent wildfires.
Online: For information on the county debris removal program, cleanup tips and community workshop dates, go to
Debris Removal Hotline: (877) 308-8111 The county is offering to collect hazardous waste from nearly 1,700 properties at no cost to homeowners. The county is also offering to clear nonhazardous debris from about 1,000 homes in unincorporated areas.

Yesterday morning, hazardous-waste specialists in white Tyvek suits, hardhats, masks and boots sifted through ash and debris at Valley Oaks Mobile Ranch at 3909 Reche Road, which lost half its 212 homes.

“We are rebuilding. We love this community,” said Grace Gabrielli, a co-owner of the park. “Our focus right now is to get the debris removed as quickly as possible.”

The $30 million project is the first of its kind in the county and is modeled after a program developed in the wake of the Lake Tahoe fires this summer, said Gary Erbeck, director of the county's Department of Environmental Health. The state will kick in $23 million, and the county will pay for the rest, he said.

The countywide cleanup will progress in two stages. The first, which began yesterday and is scheduled to end by Thanksgiving, will clear properties of hazardous waste such as pool chemicals, propane tanks, aerosol cans, fire extinguishers, car batteries, paints, solvents, pesticides, fertilizers, fluorescent lights and household cleaners.

The second phase, scheduled to begin later this month and conclude at the end of the year, will clear properties of remaining debris. Crews will water down properties to control dust and ash, and debris trucks will be sealed so material isn't released on roadways, Erbeck said.

Work crews are being supervised by officials with the county Department of Environmental Health, the California Department of Toxic Substances Control and the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

Three strike teams totaling about 125 people are being deployed throughout the county. Crews will work from 7 a.m. until nightfall six days a week, Erbeck said.
Homeowners who lost their houses have been notified of the program, how it works and how to opt out of the service if they don't want it.
People who choose to clean up their properties on their own must follow county guidelines, which are available at local assistance centers and on the Internet at
County officials warned those who do their own cleaning to be cautious.
Many household chemicals vaporized in the fires, but hazardous waste and ash can contain numerous toxins. They include asbestos and concentrated amounts of heavy metals such as arsenic, barium, beryllium, copper, chromium, cadmium, lead and zinc.

Burned appliances and automobiles can contain additional toxins, including chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and hydrofluorocarbons (HCFCs) used as refrigerants; polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) found within motor capacitors and fluorescent light ballasts; used oils; sodium azide canisters in unspent automobile air bags; antifreeze; and mercury used in thermometers, thermostats, barometers, electrical switches and batteries.

Receive up to $500 in Pet Grants from the SD Humane Society

1:34 p.m. November 9, 2007

SAN DIEGO – Pet owners who accrued extra costs to care for their animals during the wildfires can receive up to $500 from the San Diego Humane Society starting next week.

The society is launching a fire-relief pet-assistance program Monday to help households that had to evacuate and care for their animals, including livestock.

Residents can be reimbursed for food or supplies or for costs incurred for veterinary boarding and transportation of pets, said Candice Eley, a spokeswoman for the Humane Society.

The help will be made in the form of monetary reimbursements or supplies that amount up to $500 for each household, Eley said. Each reimbursement will be determined on a case-by-case basis.

Pet owners can apply for the program by calling Kimmy O'Connor at (619) 243-3434, or by filling out a form at They will need to provide a Red Cross fire identification card; a completed insurance claim form; or a government-issued document related to the fires to prove their eligibility for the program, Eley said.

Once the form is filled out, pet owners will be contacted by a society member.
A similar pet-relief program helped victims of Hurricane Katrina, Eley said. The program is open to households countywide.

San Diego Center for Play Therapy - TOY DRIVE to Benefit Kids Who Lost Their Homes to the 2007 SoCal Wildfires

San Diego Fire Support
Toy Drive for Children and Families Affected by the Fires in San Diego

If you would like to help children who have lost their homes in the fires, please donate toys! Financial contributions are also welcome, and we will use them to purchase toys.

The Toy Drive will go through the 2007 Holidays. Toys should be geared toward ages 2-12 children.

If you would like to make a financial contribution via credit card, please complete the Pre-Authorized Credit Card Approval Form on the website and fax it to (858) 675-9601.

Otherwise, please send toys and checks to:

San Diego Center for Play Therapy
16885 W. Bernardo Drive, Suite 110
San Diego, CA 92127

If you are a family that has lost your home and would like to receive toys for your children, please contact us:

16885 W. Bernardo Drive, Suite 110
San Diego, CA 92127
Phone: (858) 675-9600
Fax: (858) 675-9601

DirectionsFrom 15 North exit Rancho Bernardo Rd and turn left. Turn left on West Bernardo Dr. Turn left in parking lot for ParkWest Court, which is located after the Rodeway Hotel and before the signal. You may park under the garage and enter the double doors located in the garage parking.

Brown Dog Foundation Pet Grants for Displaced Residents of the 2007 SoCal Wildfires

Many pet-owners in and around San Diego have been displaced from their homes and are now facing exorbitant vet bills due to a sick or injured family pet because of this crisis. Brown Dog Foundation, based in Nashville TN, has offered to assist families facing a pet-health crisis in addition to losing their homes and possessions during this crisis. The Foundation was established to assist families in temporary financial crisis secure life-saving treatment needed for their family pet(s). Those affected by the wildfires may qualify for assistance to save their pet's life.

If you have lost your home in the fires, and need help getting veterinary care for your beloved family pet, please email details of your situation to:

Brown Dog Foundation is also encouraging donations to help support these fire victims. Additional contributions will allow us to help more families and their pets during this crisis. All donations are tax-deductible per IRS tax code 501(c)3. Donations can be made online at:

Or by mail to:

Brown Dog Foundation
3715 Brighton Road
Nashville, TN 37205

In compliance with IRS regulations, a receipt will be issued for contributions in excess of $250.
TOY DRIVE WILL BENEFIT CHILDREN OF FIRE FAMILIES Sponsored by the California Center for the Arts, Escondido
340 North Escondido Boulevard
Escondido, California

ESCONDIDO, Calif. (Nov. 1, 2007) - Due to the devastating fires, children from needy families whose parents might be unable to buy them even a single toy for the holidays will suffer twice. Adding to the loss of their homes and belongings there may also be no special joy for them this holiday season.

To help bring happiness to these boys and girls, the California Center for the Arts, Escondido has initiated a toy drive which will start on Sunday, November 11 with the performance of bluegrass band, Cherryholmes and end on Sunday December 16 with the performance of Handel's Messiah.

Vicky Basehore, president of the Center said about the toy drive, "Seeing the sad, confused and frightened faces of these youngsters on TV, and knowing what they suffered, inspired us to do something to help them. The proximity of the holiday season to the fires made a toy drive a natural way to try and bring some joy to their lives. And, to be sure that children truly in need receive the toys, the Salvation Army, whose mission is to help families in need, will distribute the toys."

For those wishing to donate, toys can be delivered Tuesday though Friday to the Center's Administration building. On performance days or nights, toys can be brought to the Center Theater or Concert Hall. For events in the Conference Center, toys can be left in that facility's lobby.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Architect Offering Free Services

Architectural Drafting Services SAN DIEGO

11/09 10:03:27 If you or anyone you know has lost a home in San Diego County due to the Witch Fire that started Sunday October 21st 2007 and did NOT have home insurance, or cannot afford an Architect, I am offering them my residential drafting services voluntarily (FREE) in an effort to help them rebuild.

I have been drafting residential homes for 7 years now with most of my experience in San Diego County (RAMONA) I will provide complete working drawings for building permit approval to the county building department as my time permits. This includes, Floorplans, Roof Framing plans, foundation plans, cross sections, site plans, construction details and electrical layouts. If you need a copy of my references or further samples of my work please e-mail:

Cylix Concepts and Designs Hopefully I can help make a difference.

Office- 812 Cottonwood Way, Walnut CA 91789

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Welcome To The Citizen Action Team's Relief Database SoCal Wildfires Recovery Blog


I am Leslie, a core volunteer with the Citizen Action Team Relief Database.

We are a group of concerned, passionate and active citizens that provide a revolutionary tool, available for FREE to the public, grassroots organizations, survivors of (any) disaster, government agencies, donors, and volunteers.

Post hurricane Katrina, it was clear that coordination of information resources, donations, supplies, volunteers, etc. were very disorganized. In order to keep the Citizen Action Team's relief efficient and effective, the database was born.

When it became clear that this was a dynamic and unique means of tracking, this gift was made public. There are many databases out there that are similiar in nature and even effective. The difference though is most are cloaked in the shadows of private beauracracy, costly for memberships, or just plain have functional limits.

The Relief Database is constantly striving to update the technology, information, and more than happy and willing to share this tool with anyone (or any entity) who wishes to improve upon their database's. We also welcome input and feedback from users so that we can continue to better the process.

Starting with Katrina, than Americus, GA, Enterprise, AL & Greensburg, KS, we've 'worked' many disasters in assisting public, private, non-profits and government agencies with the tools to empower people to get through first response and to the other side of recovery. When the media bails out, Red Cross & FEMA complete their temporary services and long term recovery begins, we are still there, providing a hand-up to anyone and everyone that needs it.

Currently, we are actively assisting organizations with matching excess donation destinations in San Diego County, and are continuing daily add new and update resourceful information for all affected by the 2007 SoCal Wildfires.
Come visit the SoCal Wildfires Relief Database list by arriving at our 'Quick Start Page and choosing the link for: "California Wildfires"

There you will find listings for:

Safety Tips & Information
Mental Health Services
Informational Resources
Shelter Updates
Housing Resources
Emergency Assistance
Pet Resources/Services & Needs
Donation Drives
Volunteer Opportunities
Relief & Recovery Needs
Relief & Recovery Availabilities

We have over 160 facility entered in the database dedicated to the SoCal Wildfires, and with your help, that number will climb. It makes no sense for folks to have to hunt and peck for vital information all over the internet, and the database makes it simple by placing it in one resourceful place.

If any of you bloggers out there have information you can't find in the database that would be beneficial to folks who've lost their homes, or to Responders assisting in affected communities, please feel free to post or email the details to me. Many people don't have the time, the physical or the monetary means to be a part of the healing and recovery process. Know that your input is a valueable piece of that recovery and can make an impact for many people (and animals!).

Also, feel welcome to browse the nearly 3000 entries in our database, and if you are a non-profit, donor, grassroots organization (disaster or humanitarian) and would like us to post your information to help spread the word about your mission, needs and services offered, give me a holler.

If you are interested in becoming a 'Virtual Volunteer' for the Relief Database, training is simple and the impact is great (without ever having to leave your home!). Just email me and I can get you started.

Thanks so much for joining in these efforts to help us help others!

In Service,