United Way of Ventura County responds to Thomas Fire

December 5, 2017
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Dear Friends:

An explosive brush fire, named the Thomas Fire, has spread quickly across Ventura County. Burning an estimated 31,000 acres in a matter of hours, the fire has forced thousands of residents to flee and has left at least one person dead.

Notably, the residents of the 150 homes and several apartment buildings that have already been destroyed and the estimated 600 people who are being temporarily housed at the fairgrounds will need our support and resources. If you know those affected by these fires, please call 2-1-1 or text your zip code to 898-211 to get connected and get answers.Example, text “93003” to 898-211.

United Way has set-up the Thomas Fire Fund and a text-to-give campaign. 100% of the donations will support those in our community affected by the wildfires. Donations can be made by texting UWVC to 41444, online at www.vcunitedway.org, or calling 805-485-6288. Checks may be sent to the United Way office at 702 County Square Drive, Suite 100, Ventura, CA 93003. Please write “Thomas Fire Fund” in the memo.

In the aftermath of spontaneous disasters, many generous community members step up to help those in need around them. One of the challenges after a catastrophe strikes is mobilizing those caring citizens so they can effectively help their neighbors and neighborhoods. In order to best engage spontaneous volunteers during a disaster, United Way, the Red Cross, and the Sheriff’s Department are collaborating so that community members can volunteer easily and be directed to the City and County departments or community-based organizations where their volunteering will have the most impact.

United Way is actively working with the County of Emergency Services and at this point in time, and on their recommendation, we are waiting to activate our Volunteer Center community members, but we are prepared to do so. Our office at 702 County Square Drive is also open for business and we have power.

The Thomas Fire is still out of control and continues to expand, threatening lives and homes in Ventura County. United Way, the American Red Cross, and the Sheriff’s Office will continue to work closely together to meet the evolving needs our community.

Staff and volunteers from the Office of Emergency Services, United Way, Red Cross, Volunteer Agencies Active in Disaster (VOAD) Lutheran Social Services, and Southern Baptist Disaster Relief have an agreement how best to implement and manage the Thomas Fire Fund. These partners determined that United Way will manage the disaster fund, accept contributions, make distributions, promote the fund, and be responsible for providing a report to the community on how the funds were used. After the wildfire is contained, a committee of representatives from community- and faith-based organizations will be convened to assess needs and allocate money from the fund. Committee participation will be driven by the communities affected and services needed in response to the disaster.

Together, united, we’ll get through this and remain strong for those who need us most.
In service,
Eric Harrison
President & CEO

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