It’s going to be a long haul for the thousands of people displaced by the wildfires in California. Donations have poured in, and people are wanting to help and give to the victims. But evacuation and donation centers have already said they’re overflowing with albeit generous, stacks of unnecessary supplies.
“There’s an overflow of used items. And that’s wonderful but the problem is we don’t have enough volunteers to sort through all these things. And frankly, the volunteer manpower is better used to organize people to go out to the evacuation camps and build new houses and things that are going to be done in the months to come," said Stephanie Hayden, Executive Director of the Hope Center in Oroville, California.
"There’s also a public health standard. And the concern is when you have piles and piles and heaps and heaps of used things...rats love those things, cockroaches love those things, lice love those things.”
“When the moment comes you don’t know what to take, you don’t know, where to go. You don’t how much time you have,” said Haley Kingery. She lost her Paradise home in the Camp Fire and is now living with her sister. Her mother, who also lost her home, is with dozens who have set up tents in a Walmart parking lot in the town of Chico.
"You think you have time to get what you need. There was no time," she said.
In past California fires, relief workers had to send big-rigs of unneeded donations to the landfill. At the Hope Center, Hayden says they'll eventually be able to make use of the used items. For now, the evacuees Newsy spoke with say money or gift cards to pay for things like medications and housing are what they need most.
The Camp Fire, to date, has burnt more than 140,000 acres of Northern California, killing 63 people and leaving 631 unaccounted for, according to Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea.
The American Red Cross is raising money to help victims of California’s wildfires. To donate, go to online or call 1-800-RED-CROSS and designate “California wildfires”. The United Way of Northern California established a relief fund to assist Camp Fire victims called the NorCal Disaster Relief Fund. To donate, text “BUTTEFIRE” to 91999, or visit norcalunitedway.org. And the Hope Center posts regular lists on a Facebook page of what specific items are needed at that moment.