Thomas Fire and Montecito Mudslide

In the fall of 2017, a series of wind-driven wildfires scorched hundreds of thousands of acres and damaged and destroyed thousands of homes, businesses, and other structures across multiple counties in California. The Thomas Fire was the largest recorded fire in the state’s history, and the devastation continued when mud and debris slides swept through Santa Barbara County with deadly consequences.

Direct Relief responded throughout both emergencies with specifically requested medical aid and financial support:

Protecting Against Poor Air Quality During the Thomas Fire, air quality was compromised by heavy smoke and ash. Direct Relief coordinated with the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department to distribute more than 400,000 N-95 masks to more than 60 community organizations. Inhalers and other respiratory medications were provided to local clinics in Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties, including the Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics and Clinicas del Camino Real in Oxnard.

Equipping emergency response and recovery effortsAfter the Jan. 9 mudslide, Direct Relief purchased specifically requested offroad vehicles and emergency gear, which were deployed and put to use immediately by Montecito Fire, Santa Barbara County Fire Urban Search, and Rescue and Swift Water Rescue, Santa Barbara City Fire, and SB County Sheriff Search and Rescue. Each agency also received a $20,000 grant to purchase other emergency gear, including dry suits, headlamps, harnesses and cables, and helmets. A specially equipped off-road truck and trailer was also purchased for the Montecito Fire Department to transport the vehicles.

Supporting public health efforts for safe clean-upDirect Relief has provided the Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics and the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department with tetanus vaccine for responders, cleanup workers and residents working in the mudslide clean-up areas.  Personal protective gear, including 3M protective suits, N95 masks, and goggles were provided to Habitat for Humanity, which is organizing community clean-up volunteer crews, to other community groups, Santa Barbara County agencies, and residents who may need them. Direct Relief also is providing funding support for the Santa Barbara Bucket Brigade, which has mobilized hundreds of volunteers to assist homeowners with mud removal and clean up from their homes.

Providing Financial Assistance to Undocumented Residents For undocumented residents, Direct Relief made an initial commitment of $100,000 to CAUSE, a Ventura County-based organization that supports undocumented residents. Those who experience economic losses due to work closures or other impacts were encouraged to apply to the fund.

1/9 Victims Fund Direct Relief also established a fund for victims of the Montecito Mudslide and has committed an initial $500,000 to support families of people who lost their lives, people who sustained injuries, and individuals who experienced property loss and do not qualify for the first two classes. To apply to the 1/9 Victims Fund, please visit this link: 1/9 Victims Fund Application.

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