Nevada County steps up to help those displaced by fires | TheUnion.com

Nevada County steps up to help those displaced by fires

By 5:30 a.m. Monday, just a few short hours after wildfires raging through Nevada County began forcing the evacuations of residents from Rough and Ready, Lake Wildwood and the McCourtney Road areas, Twin Cities Church Pastor Ron Thompson was already stepping up to help. Twin Cities was tapped as a second shelter, following the earlier opening of First Baptist Church on Ridge Road.

"The county called and asked if we would be a host, to have displaced people come here," he said. "We said yes and started making arrangements."

The Lobo fire marks only the second time Twin Cities has been called on for shelter services. During the Oroville Dam evacuation, the church served as a center for clothing donations, but no one spent the night and no food was served, Thompson said.

"So we really got our feet wet" this time, he said. "But we have some really quality people who figured it out quickly. And we have amazing volunteers — we've had one woman here 8 to 10 hours a day serving, snacks, drinks, fruit, coffee — especially coffee."

The church designated some staff members to support the county-run shelter, Thompson said.

"There's a lot of need, there's a lot of fear," he said. "We're just sitting down and talking to people."

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On Monday, Thompson said he stopped to get several dozen doughnuts and arrived at 9 a.m. to find evacuees already coming in.

"We had 150 in the first wave," he said. "We had people in RVs and cars in the lot, and about 50 spent the night on cots Monday night."

Approximately two-thirds of the shelter guests went home when Lake Wildwood opened back up Tuesday, with about 25 staying Tuesday night at the shelter.

On Wednesday, an estimated 50 people were at Twin Cities after the two shelters were consolidated.

"Rough and Ready folk is what we have right now — people with medical issues, with special needs," Thompson said. "We're open until they say they don't need us."

Nevada County officials were planning on staffing the shelter through the weekend, depending on the weather.

"It will be open … for the foreseeable future," said administrative analyst Taylor Wolfe.

Long-term help for evacuees is in the works as well, Wolfe said; an information phone line will be open by this morning to help assist residents who know or think they may have lost their homes.

How you can help

Like others involved in helping local fire victims, Thompson said Twin Cities does not have any need for volunteers or physical donations.

"We have a benevolence fund that we use to help people in need," Thompson said.

The Salvation Army moved from First Baptist to Twin Cities Wednesday and will continue to provide three nutritious meals a day "until everyone goes home," said Major Ray Yant. "We're also serving the volunteers, because they need to take care of themselves, too. … We're here for the long haul."

The Salvation Army has all the help it needs, as well as water, he said, adding that monetary donations will go to provide vouchers or gift cards for people who have been burned out of their homes.

Checks can be earmarked for disaster relief and 100 percent of that money will go to those individuals in need, Yant said; donations can be sent to the Salvation Army at P.O. Box 1358, Grass Valley CA 95945.

The Red Cross has been inundated with donations of physical goods, said Steve Walsh, the director of communications for the Gold Country region.

Red Cross volunteers were at the First Baptist Church shelter, and have provided 100 comfort kits of toiletries for evacuees, Walsh said.

"We have no physical needs at any of our shelters, which is great news," he said.

Those wishing to donate money can designate the funds for California wildfires, and all that money will be used for that purpose, Walsh said. To donate, go online to redcross.org or call 1-800-RED-CROSS.

But community members who are short on cash but want to help do have some options.

"Anyone who wants to donate clothes, toiletries, any basic necessities, for men, women or children, they can bring them to the station and we will accept them," said Rough and Ready firefighter Allison Kitchen; the volunteer fire department is located at 14506 Rough and Ready Highway. "Right now we're here around the clock, so they can come whenever."

Contact reporter Liz Kellar at 530-477-4236 or by email at lkellar@theunion.com.

Nevada County to open help line

Residents who know their home was destroyed, or who want to find out if their home was damaged by the fires, can call the county at 530-265-1218 after 9 a.m. Thursday to start the recovery process. County staff answering this line will be able to confirm if an address is on our list of affected properties. Property owners will be asked for contact information and other basic questions. In addition, information will continue to be updated on the Nevada County Office of Emergency Services social media sites and at http://www.MyNevadaCounty.com.

For live fire coverage go to The Union Now

Also additional ongoing coverage can be found here.

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