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Disaster Relief Team

DISASTER RELIEF

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Survivors of the 2020 North Complex Fire in the Butte County Communities of Berry Creek and Feather Falls are facing additional destruction as severe storms continue to whip through the foothill community, where many households are still living in RVs as they try to rebuild.

 

The Saint Vincent de Paul Disaster Case Management program, which has been in the community helping with fire recovery, is now seeking additional resources to help with the latest needs. In-kind financial donations will go directly to providing supplies and resources to help fire survivors doubly impacted by the storms.

DISASTER RELIEF

The National Society St. Vincent de Paul's Disaster Services Corporation (DSC) responds to major disasters such as floods, wildfires, tornadoes and other events throughout the United States. DSC supports St. Vincent de Paul Councils and Conferences when disaster strikes locally with the help of their Rapid Response Teams along with Rapid Response and Long-Term Recovery Grants.

 

Sacramento Diocesan Council Disaster Relief


The Sacramento Disaster Relief team has provided local disaster support for many years, including the Berryessa, Butte, and Trinity Fires in 2014 - 2016. It also assisted during the Oroville Dam Spillover in 2017 by linking with local conferences to provide temporary shelter and supplies for those who were unable to stay in the homes. 

 

Saint Vincent De Paul currently has Disaster Case Management Services in Butte County, and provides training and oversight in Placer, Lassen, Nevada and Plumas Counties.

 

In Butte County a team of 5 Disaster Case Managers along with an Intake and Referral Specialist, a Data Analyst, Admin Assistant and Program Manager are supporting the ongoing need for relief for survivors of the North Complex Fire, locally referred to as the Bear Fire.

 

The North Complex Fire began on August 17, 2020 and burned 318,935 acres. By September 8th, the fire hurled through the mountain communities of Berry Creek and Feather Falls, in Butte County California. The fire made national news for being the biggest and deadliest fire of 2020. Sixteen lives were lost, over 100 non-fatal injuries were sustained and 1,523 homes were destroyed.

 

This fire in scope was larger than the 2018 Camp Fire. Unlike the Camp Fire & Dixie Fire, PG&E was not at fault and will not offer recovery funds. As of now, it is the 7th largest wildfire in California’s history.

 

Since May 2021, Saint Vincent De Paul Disaster Case Managers have been working to help survivors of the Bear Fire obtain safe and sustainable housing, while also addressing their immediate needs. As of October 31st, 2022, 981 cases have been opened with over $1,060,000 in referrals and resources received for the Bear Fire Survivors.

 

Saint Vincent de Paul began Disaster Case Management services in Butte County, following the Camp Fire in Paradise. The fire was the most devastating in California’s history, with 85 lives lost and 11,000 homes destroyed.

 

The Camp Fire Disaster Case Management program began in December 2019 and wrapped up in May 2022. During that time, a team of 13 disaster case managers and supporting staff served 1,366 clients. Obtaining over $1,500,000 in referrals and resources.

 

Saint Vincent de Paul established the Disaster Case Management program in partnership with Catholic Charities of California.

 

What is a Disaster Case Manager?

 

Disaster Case Managers (DCM) work with partner organizations to address unmet needs through volunteer assistance, in-kind donations, and accessing all available sources of potential funding including FEMA and SBA appeals, as well as, in some cases, financial support to fund unmet needs not covered by insurance or

other avenues of support. 
 

What does a Disaster Case Manager do?
 

A Disaster Case Manager helps survivors to develop a realistic long-term recovery plan for recovering from the disaster. The disaster case manager also helps identify and facilitate access to appropriate community resources that will support the plan.


Program Successes

Camp Fire Success Stories

One of the DCMs has been working with a couple who was living in a FEMA unit, without any leads on housing. Prior to the Camp Fire, this special needs couple was living in an apartment in Paradise, and they wished to return to Paradise. Life has been difficult for this developmentally disabled couple since the disaster took place. They no longer had the home they were accustomed to or the same employment opportunities and found themselves in a FEMA trailer far from Paradise. Upon receiving the case in June, the DCM began coordinating with the Disability Action Center to get this couple rehoused in Paradise. After searching for and finding an affordable apartment, the DCM applied for assistance with the security deposit and furniture. This couple has since moved into their new apartment in Paradise and turned in the key to their FEMA unit. They are as close to their pre-fire state as possible. For this couple, they will no longer be in limbo and can resume their lives, living back in Paradise in a place they can afford. The DCM played a critical part in this recovery, not only locating and facilitating the rental, but also in providing furniture for the apartment. Due to their disabilities, this couple could have easily found themselves without a home when the FEMA park closed. Instead, they are happily rehoused in Paradise and their case is being closed.

One of our DCMs has been working with a survivor who is living in a FEMA unit in Gridley.  Prior to the Camp Fire, this senior was living in a small place and working at Kmart in Paradise. Life has been difficult for this individual since the disaster took place. She managed to get a job at the dollar store in Gridley, but with part-time hours was unable to find an affordable place to rent. Fortunately, a Section 8 voucher was approved for her. The DCM began searching for a place for this survivor to rent and facilitated a lease agreement between the landlord of SVDP’s Gridley office and the client. In approximately one week, this survivor will move out of the FEMA unit and into a home that will be sustainable for her in the long term. She will be as close to her pre-fire state as possible. She will once again have an apartment of her own and a part-time job at a discount retail store. For this senior, she will no longer be in limbo and can resume her life, living in a place she can afford.  The DCM played a critical part in this recovery plan, not only locating and facilitating the rental, but in also providing furniture for the apartment. This relationship with the landlord has led him coming to our agency before listing any of his rentals. This greatly reduces the “competition” for our DCMs to house survivors.   

Bear Fire Success Story: 

Bear Fire Disaster Case Managers helped make Christmas Merry for Bear Fire Survivors in Berry Creek. The group spearheaded a Holiday Resource drive, gathering toys, coats, blankets, tarps and other essentials for the fire survivors. 

 

The group partnered with Toys for Tots to get nearly 100 toys for Berry Creek kids, while SVDP Chico Conference provided gift cards for teenagers. The Wildfire Relief fund helped with the purchase of used coats and blankets as well as brand new tarps that will help survivors still living in RVs get through the winter month.

 

Bear Fire Success Story:

 

Sometimes it takes a Village, and Bear Fire DCM know this better than anyone. This month a Bear Fire Survivor received the final permits to move into her tiny home in Feather Falls. The 192 square foot home was built thanks to a network of contractors, high school students and community partners.

 

The project was organized by Amy Rohrer, executive director of Valley Contractors exchange. Her son, Ben Rohrer, a student at Chico High School designed the home as part of a Design Competition. Chico High School students then built the home which was later transported and put on foundation at the property. 

 

DCM helped connect the client to the project and provided support and guidance along the way. The client contributed FEMA funds to cover electrical work on the property, while local contractors donated their time and skill to see the project come to fruition. It was also the first small foot print/tiny home on foundation to be completed in Butte County.

Bear Fire Survivor Story

The Bucks were 16 payments away from being mortgage free and were looking forward to retirement when they lost their home in the Lightning Complex Fire in September of 2020.

 

The home had served as the main gathering spot for immediate and extended family from out of the area. Being able to host family and friends was something this family greatly enjoyed.

 

After being dropped from their homeowners insurance following the Camp Fire the family had struggled to find affordable coverage and had to make due with minimal coverage, leaving them severely under insured when the fire hit.

 

Despite this, they used what insurance they had, along with their FEMA payout, a state disaster grant and their savings and began repairing infrastructure on the property. They eventually entered a contract to purchase a mobile home.

 

However, after all their hard work an issue with the Manufactured Home company led to a stall in their contract and in this time interest rates and material costs shot up, resulting in a mortgage payment that would leave them financially strained.

 

With the help of their Saint Vincent de Paul Disaster Case Manager the family was able to access $35,500 in downpayment assistance from funders at the Unmet Needs Roundtable. The additional down payment money helped lower their monthly mortgage payments by nearly $300.

 

Additionally, they were able to access $4,800 in assistance to pay for well repairs, allowing them to keep some money in savings for a safety net.

 

Life looks different on the hill for this family, but they’re eager to have their home completed so the family can gather and celebrate how far they have come.

DONATE TODAY and make a difference in a survivor’s life.

EVENTS
 

Trunk or Treat: On October 31st, 2022 Bear Fire Disaster Case Managers participated in the local Trunk or Treat in Berry Creek, providing a happy reprieve for Bear Fire survivors, many of whom are still living in RVs while they wait for resources to rebuild. The local K-8 school was destroyed in the fire. Children are still being bussed 45 minutes away to a temporary school while they wait for reconstruction to begin at the old school site in the Spring.

 

Fall Gear Drive: On November 3rd, 2022 Saint Vincent de Paul Disaster Case Management partnered with Northern Valley Catholic Services and other community organizations to bring much needed winter gear to Bear Fire survivors in the Feather Falls area. Community members were able to pick up tarps, caulking for weatherization, jackets, blankets and pet food. The event was well attended and participants expressed their gratitude.

“It means a lot to see you here doing this. We feel forgotten in this area, people hear Bear Fire and they think it’s all about Berry Creek, but we were affected too,” one attendee said.

Northern California Fire Fund

We have an ongoing "Northern California Fire Fund" as our state is plagued with fires the need is constant. Click here for details. 

Get Help for 2020 California Wildfires

 

On August 22, 2020, a Major Disaster Declaration was issued for the state of California, making federal funding available for St. Vincent de Paul to provide Disaster Case Management services to affected individuals. We are able to provide Disaster Case Management Services to individuals located in the following counties that were affected by fires.
 

What is Disaster Case Management? Click here to find out more!

 

If you were affected by the North Complex Disaster/Bear Fire in Butte County, CA you can fill out our Butte County intake form here.

 

 

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