Community looks for creative ways to help Alpine fire victims

ALPINE, Calif. – Alpine residents met Tuesday to discuss the best ways to help their neighbors affected by Friday’s West Fire.

City and county officials met with community and church leaders at the VFW Post 9578 on Tavern Road.

Those at the meeting agreed that fire victims need money donations, but donations of clothing, food, furniture and other physical things are not very helpful, because people who have lost their homes have nowhere to store these things.

Some people suggested that businesses could donate services, such as a construction company offering to clear the rubble from a burned property or a landscaping company donating time to replant burned vegetation.

“There’s the big things that the insurance company does -- walking them through for everything that was in their house so that it’s accounted for in the insurance and understanding that process,” said Rachell Lara with Loving Life Alpine.  “And then there’s doing the physical labor -- things that they might not be able to do. And then there’s moving them and doing landscaping and just being a support for them.”

Lara encouraged people to get involved with an adopt-a-family program where a volunteer can become the contact person for a family and help coordinate aid for the family.

"We have a lot of people that have been affected by the fire, both by burning and just not getting back into their houses, and how we can come together as different organizations and different community members to best serve them so that we’re making the best use of our efforts," said Lara.

Practical help, other than physical donations like clothing or food that will be needed for the long term, while fire victims and the community try to get back on their feet.

Other ideas that came up during the meeting were volunteering to adopt the pet of a fire victim for several weeks or months until the family has a stable place to stay.

The group said it would meet again soon to share other creative ways to help fire victims.

"It was great having everybody here and being able to see what we need immediately and what’s going to be needed for this next year,” said Lara.