SANTA BARBARA, Calif., Nov. 20, 2018 — In response to the unprecedented destruction and challenges facing survivors of California’s recent wildfires in both Northern and Southern California, Direct Relief boosted its commitment to the relief effort today by announcing it will devote at least $2 million in cash to bolster response and recovery efforts.
The organization last week made its entire medical inventory available for healthcare facilities and patients in the affected areas and has been making daily deliveries of emergency medications, N-95 particulate masks and consumer health products to health facilities, shelters and public health agencies struggling to care for thousands of displaced residents.
Today’s announcement of an increased cash commitment was made as Direct Relief has begun making emergency cash grants to community health centers and local organizations to complement the provision of emergency medical inventories.
In mass evacuations such as those occurring in California, persons with chronic medical conditions such as asthma or diabetes are at risk of acute crisis if they are unable to access their medications. Direct Relief already has been receiving and fulfilling emergency requests for such items and has delivered insulin, inhalers, oxygen concentrators and other medications to health facilities and public health agencies.
In established shelters for evacuees of the Camp Fire that destroyed Paradise, CA, outbreaks of norovirus — the highly contagious virus that causes severe vomiting and diarrhea — are among the immediate health challenges that arose over the past several days and has affected both evacuees and medical staff. Direct Relief made emergency deliveries of requested anti-nausea medications over the weekend, as well as oral-rehydration supplies and other over-the-counter medications for those who have fallen ill – and hygiene kits for residents of shelters and other displaced persons.
The organization also has supplied disinfectant products for medical staff and shelter facilities and personal protective gear for environmental health staff.
Direct Relief recognizes that the local nonprofit health organizations with which it is working in the fire-affected areas require financial support in addition to the essential medications and supplies that Direct Relief has been and will continue to provide.
Direct Relief also will begin making emergency cash grants to its nonprofit partner organizations so that they can continue to fulfill essential services, cover operating and uninsured losses, and meet the unanticipated expenses that are being incurred during the emergency.
Direct Relief also is using funds to purchase requested medications and supplies needed immediately. These include small-sized N-95 respiratory masks for children to breathe safely in smoke-filled air; a new supply of oxygen concentrators that enable people with damaged lungs to breathe; and protective gear for people returning to sift through the rubble of their destroyed homes.
Direct Relief has so far received $837,000 in cash donations specifically for California wildfire relief and will fund the remainder of the $2 million commitment out of its general operating budget.
As always, Direct Relief will use all contributions designated for the California wildfires solely for relief and recovery efforts related to the California wildfires. Direct Relief’s donation policy includes no fine print, disclaimer, or qualification allowing designated funds to be used for other purposes. (See https://www.directrelief.org/2018/11/california-wildfire-donation-policy/ for more information.)
Those wishing to help the effort can contribute at www.directrelief.org/donate.