5 things people are doing to help the victims of the California fires.

The fires engulfing Napa and Sonoma counties are rapidly becoming some of the worst in California's history.

Photo by Josh Edelson/Getty Images.

On Sunday night, flames swept into Santa Rosa and other cities across the region with little warning. At least 24 people have been confirmed dead, with hundreds displaced and nearly 300 still reported missing.


Meanwhile, hundreds of residents from hotel owners to teachers and students to local government officials to relief workers are marshalling help those to affected. Here's what they've been up to in the days since the devastation began.

1. Farms are taking in displaced animals, and high school volunteers are working around the clock to care for them.

Local students learning animal care and agriculture at Vintage Farm have been rescuing dogs, goats, horses, and other pets and farm animals and housing and feeding them in the teaching farm's facilities.

"I’ve actually been having to make the kids go home," teacher Emmalee Casillas told the Napa Valley Register. "They’re probably pulling eight to 10 hours each on average."

The Sonoma Valley High School farm is also accepting large animals.

2. Hotels are offering rooms to evacuees at steep discounts or for free.

The Napa Valley Register reports that the county's Meritage Resort and Spa, a luxury hotel whose rooms typical sell for upward of $300 per night, is providing accommodations to displaced locals at $99 a night.

The room-sharing service Airbnb is connecting evacuees with hosts offering their space for free. Photo by Lionel Bonaventure/Getty Images.

Meanwhile, individuals are opening their homes to evacuees. Airbnb hosts in the area are offering free stays to people displaced by the fires, and residents are circulating a public Google document with a list of donated housing.

3. Two local Boys and Girls Clubs sites are opening to all children during the day in the wake of widespread school closures.

Children whose classes have been cancelled can visit the Napa Clubhouse and the community gym at American Canyon.

"The Club is sensitive to the fact that a disaster of this nature puts pressure on families and will provide a diversion for school age children in a safe location where kids can just be kids," a spokesperson for the organization relayed in a news release sent to the Napa Valley Register.

4. Dozens of facilities across the affected area are currently operating as shelters.

These facilities include public spaces like high schools and community centers, places of worship, and private venues, like the Sonoma Raceway campground.

5. The U.S. postal service is still delivering mail.

On Wednesday, a drone operator captured striking footage of a postal truck making deliveries in a burned out neighborhood in Santa Rosa.

In a statement issued to The Mercury News in San Jose, postal service district manager Noemi Luna revealed, "A few customers asked the carrier to leave their mail if the mailbox was still standing," a request the carrier decided to honor.

There's also many ways for you to pitch in. Here's how:

The Sacramento Bee has compiled a list of requests and opportunities to help on their website, located here.

Unlike many disaster relief scenarios, local government and agencies are requesting supplies. The Sacramento Bee compiled a list of shelters, many of which are in need of bedding. The City of Sonoma and the staff of the local school district were requesting following items for their shelters as of Oct. 9: non-latex gloves, heavy duty garbage bags, adult diapers, baby wipes, prepared lunch foods, coffee creamer, to-go coffee cups, and ground coffee.

Many organizations, including the Red Cross, are looking for volunteers, including those with medical training, to assist evacuees.

Those too far away to deliver supplies or volunteer can donate to Redwood Credit Union's relief fund, United Way of Wine Country, or one of dozens of GoFundMe drives raising money for relief.

On February 19, 2020, a group of outdoor adventurists took a 25-day rafting trip down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. During the trip, they had no cell service and no contact with the outside world. When they ended they ended their journey on March 14, the man who pulled them ashore asked if they had been in touch with anyone else. When the rafters said no, the man sighed, then launched into an explanation of how the globe had been gripped by the coronavirus pandemic and everything had come to a screeching halt.

The rafters listened with bewilderment as they were told about toilet paper shortages and the NBA season being canceled and everyone being asked to stay at home. One of the river guides, who had done these kinds of off-grid excursions multiple times, said that they'd often joke about coming back to a completely different world—it had just never actually happened before.

The rafters' story was shared in the New York Times last spring, but they're not the only ones to have had such an experience.

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True

The global eradication of smallpox in 1980 is one of international public health's greatest successes. But in 1966, seven years after the World Health Organization announced a plan to rid the world of the disease, smallpox was still widespread. The culprits? A lack of funds, personnel and vaccine supply.

Meanwhile, outbreaks across South America, Africa, and Asia continued, as the highly contagious virus continued to kill three out of every 10 people who caught it, while leaving many survivors disfigured. It took a renewed commitment of resources from wealthy nations to fulfill the promise made in 1959.

Forty-one years later, although we face a different virus, the potential for vast destruction is just as great, and the challenges of funding, personnel and supply are still with us, along with last-mile distribution. Today, while 30% of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated, with numbers rising every day, there is an overwhelming gap between wealthy countries and the rest of the world. It's becoming evident that the impact on the countries getting left behind will eventually boomerang back to affect us all.

Photo by ismail mohamed - SoviLe on Unsplash

The international nonprofit CARE recently released a policy paper that lays out the case for U.S. investment in a worldwide vaccination campaign. Founded 75 years ago, CARE works in over 100 countries and reaches more than 90 million people around the world through multiple humanitarian aid programs. Of note is the organization's worldwide reputation for its unshakeable commitment to the dignity of people; they're known for working hand-in-hand with communities and hold themselves to a high standard of accountability.

"As we enter into our second year of living with COVID-19, it has become painfully clear that the safety of any person depends on the global community's ability to protect every person," says Michelle Nunn, CARE USA's president and CEO. "While wealthy nations have begun inoculating their populations, new devastatingly lethal variants of the virus continue to emerge in countries like India, South Africa and Brazil. If vaccinations don't effectively reach lower-income countries now, the long-term impact of COVID-19 will be catastrophic."

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