Photo by Kaelin Mendez
The Woolsey Fire burned nearly 100,000 acres, destroyed about 1,500 structures, claimed the lives of three civilians and impacted many in the Ventura County and Los Angeles County communities. However, in the wake of tragedy, many organizations stepped up to help victims of the Woolsey Fire through support on the ground and in the water.
The mission statement of the American Red Cross is to “prevent and alleviate human suffering in the face of emergencies by mobilizing the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors,” written on American Red Cross Mission & Principles webpage.
The American Red Cross opened eight shelters for Woolsey and Hill Fire victims — four shelters in Ventura County and four in Los Angeles Country. These shelters bring relief to evacuees through health care services, emergency supplies, food, shelter, emotional support and health care to individuals in affected areas.
According to the Red Cross, as of Nov. 14, 2018, the Red Cross served 34,100 meals and snacks to all evacuees in the Woolsey, Camp and Hill Fires.
The Red Cross shelters opened their doors to not only humans but also their beloved pets. There were four shelters for animals of all sizes, as well as Zuma Beach in Malibu for the evacuees who could not reach safety going north through the canyons or south on Pacific Coast Highway.
The Woolsey Fire displaced not only domesticated household pets, but also livestock like horses, donkeys, goats and sheep. Pierce College, Hansen Dam Equestrian and City of Industry Expo Center were the three main evacuation sights for large livestock.
LA County Animal Care and Control Spokesman Danny Ubario told LA Daily News four dogs, 15 ponies, one pig, three sheep, eight donkeys, six goats, four chickens and four alpacas were taken from Zuma Beach to Hansen Dam Equestrian in Lake View Terrace.
Humane Society of Ventura County
The Humane Society of Ventura County, an animal welfare organization, is located on 4.4 acres of property in the Ojai Valley. The Humane Society provides veterinary programs to the community, emergency shelter in times of natural disasters, animal rescue missions and sanctuaries for animals in need.
During the Woolsey Fire, the Humane Society assisted in evacuating animals from properties, provided emergency medical treatments and cared for the evacuated animals. As of Nov. 16, 2018, the Humane Society evacuated 269 animals during the peak time of the fire.
According to the Humane Society of Ventura County’s Facebook page, on Nov. 13, 2018, “two volunteers transported 22 chickens, 6 ducks, and a peacock who had been evacuated from Big Heart Ranch in Malibu to the Humane Society of Ventura County for safekeeping.”
The Humane Society is a nonprofit that relies on donations to sustain the organization. Generous donations are crucial to the organization especially in times of crisis. Actor Sandra Bullock donated $100,000 to the Humane Society to help with the evacuation and rescue of animals during the calamitous fire.
Photo by Milan Loiacono
Stanley the Giraffe
Stanley the Giraffe, a celebrity of Malibu who resides in the Saddleback Ranch at Malibu Wine Safaris, gained a lot of attention over social media when questions and rumors began to arise whether or not Stanley was safe. Stanley is safe.
Dakota Semler, the owner of Malibu Wine Safaris, spoke in an interview with ABC7 news, stating that the company practices evacuation protocols. They are put in place in the event that a natural disaster occurs or a wildfire breaks out, like the Woolsey Fire.
One of the rumors that spread across social media was that Stanley the Giraffe was neglected. The staff at Malibu Wine Safaris said they stayed with him the entire time, and they did not leave him behind as many individuals on social media claimed. When an animal is spooked or in distress, it is dangerous transporting them to an evacuation site. They could hurt themselves or go into shock from the stress of the situation.
“As a veterinarian with 33 years of experience, the fire protocol of moving the animals into the central area was the most prudent and realistic plan to get the animals to safety,” Stephen Klause, wildlife and exotics veterinarian, wrote on the Malibu Wine Safari’s website. “No animal moved into that area perished as a result of a fire that destroyed 95 percent of the structures on the property, which is a testament to the viability and enactment of the ranch’s fire protocol.”
The city of Malibu was inaccessible by car for the majority of the evacuation period of the Woolsey Fire. Some Malibu residents did not evacuate and were left without necessities such as food, water, toiletries and pet food. The only way supplies could be brought into Malibu was through boat. Many volunteers and organizations stepped up to help the Malibu community by donating their time, supplies and boats to deliver necessities to Paradise Cove in Malibu.
In Redondo Beach, the Dive N’ Surf shop owned by the Meistrell family requested supplies for the residents of Malibu. Their request was received with open arms from the Redondo community as people lined the parking lot with crucial living supplies. The Meistrell family also founded the water sports company Body Glove. They own two boats and were able to load up their 73-foot boat, the Disappearance, and their 40-foot boat, the Que Paso, to deliver the supplies.
The Mistrells were not the only ones using their vessels to help bring relief to the victims of the Woolsey Fire. Many other families and companies used their boats and jet skis to assist in the relief effort.
The Redondo Beach Police Department escorted the boats to Paradise Cove to ensure a safe delivery of supplies to residents, firefighters and animal rescue groups.
Photo courtesy of Laurence Cottrell
United Way of Greater Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Rams, CBS 2 and KCAL 9 started Fire Relief Fund, which raised over $1,173,905 for the United Way’s Southern California Disaster Relief Fund.
According to the United Way LA, this fund will “support our low-income neighbors whose lives and livelihoods are affected by the current wildfires in Southern California … The fund primarily provides longer-term support to help low-income individuals and families rebuild their lives.”
This was a multi-platform fundraising effort where individuals could call to donate, text, mail a check or donate online. Throughout the fundraiser, LA Rams players, as well as numerous celebrities, answered telephones to support the fundraising effort.
Corporate donors stepped up to the plate as organizations such as IBM, JP Morgan Chase & Co., 21st Century Fox and many more donated generous amounts of money.
According to the LA Rams website, the United Way of Greater Los Angeles will not only help others through their own organization but will also donate 25 percent of the funds raised in the Fire Relief Funds to the American Red Cross.
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