Photo: Paul Kline/Flickr
For the past week multiple wildfires have raged through Napa and Sonoma County, causing a tragic death toll of 41 and forcing thousands of residents to flee and lose their homes. In fact, as many as 100,000 people were forced to evacuate and find shelter elsewhere while their communities were in danger. Many of the evacuation orders have lifted, but 34,000 are still displaced.
For those in the surrounding cities without firefighting experience, the question is often: How can we provide assistance? Whatever you have to give — whether it’s toiletries, canned goods or an empty couch — is sure to be more impactful than complaining about the poor air quality.
Airbnb began an Open Homes Program, waiving all service fees and enabling hosts to list their homes for free up until October 30th. Assistance is being offered to those who have been displaced by the fires, as well as relief workers who have traveled to the area to help. So far, 900+ volunteers have listed their spaces at no charge on the home-sharing platform.
Hipcamp, a startup company that allows people to “share their land with campers and create sustainable revenue,” also has a substantial and ever-growing list of hosts who are opening up their homes (and campsites) for free. Evacuees are encouraged to reach out to the hosts directly — some of them are able to accommodate pets and can provide tents or sleeping bags for those who had to leave their homes in a hurry.
According to real estate analysis company CoreLogic, 172,000 homes are at risk of fire damage, a potential loss valued at more than $65 billion. The devastation is staggering and the fires are still not contained. As of Sunday, the Atlas fire is 56 percent contained, while the Nuns fire is 25 percent. The time to help those affected is now.