As the Detwiler fire in Mariposa County raged on Wednesday, San Joaquin Valley residents looked for any way to help evacuees and emergency responders.
But, relief organizations such as the Red Cross say they appreciate the good intentions, but the best way to help is allowing volunteers do the work they were trained to do.
As the Red Cross worked to open a sixth evacuation shelter in Sonora on Wednesday, residents posted to social media asking if they could serve meals to firefighters or donate good such as water and towels to the Red Cross.
“Financial donations is still the best way to give,” said Jessica Piffero, a spokeswoman for Red Cross.
“Our shelters are staffed with pre-existing, trained, registered volunteers,” she said. “We really encourage everybody to reach out to local relief organizations and see what their needs are first before inundating them with supplies.”
CalFire provides for firefighters’ every need during large incidents like this, said Jaime Williams, a CalFire public information officer out of Mariposa.
“The firefighters are well taken care of,” she said.
Firefighters are fed and make sure to stock up on plenty of water and Gatorade before they leave town, she said.
Naomi E. Flam, CEO of the Central California Animal Disaster Team, also said her group prefers monetary donations.
Flam’s team is working in coordination with the Mariposa County Sheriff’s Office animal control.
An emergency shelter in Oakhurst currently is housing about 150 animals. Another at the Coarsegold Rodeo Grounds is housing more than 30 horses, Flam said.
Small house pets, such as dogs, cats, guinea pigs and birds, are being housed alongside the Red Cross shelter at Cesar E. Chavez Middle School in Planada.
An additional livestock shelter is being prepared at the Merced Horseman’s Association, 499 Nevada St. in Merced.
Anyone who would like to volunteer with the CCADT can visit the group’s website and download the volunteer information. Volunteers must go through training.
For those who really would like to help, Piffero suggested hosting a community yard sale and donating the proceeds to a community relief organization.
Or, sign up to become a Red Cross volunteer and get trained so you can help during the next disaster, she said.
Brianna Calix: 209-385-2477