The recent California wildfires have brought unimaginable destruction and tragedy to thousands of Californians. In Northern California, the Camp Fire in Butte County became the most destructive wildfire in California history before finally being contained within 153,336 acres on November 25. The nearly month-long blaze caused the deaths of 88 individuals—a number that is expected to climb—and leveled the town of Paradise and surrounding areas, displacing thousands of families from their homes.
In Southern California, the Woolsey Fire in Ventura and Los Angeles counties and the Hill Fire in Ventura County burned over 100,000 acres combined, resulting in at least three deaths, forcing tens of thousands of people to evacuate, and destroying over 1,500 homes and buildings.
While many governmental and non-profit organizations are providing aid, reaching those who need it may be the most difficult part. Many survivors lost everything and face a myriad of legal issues at the same time they are trying to take care of basic necessities. In addition, for many survivors, this may be the first time they are navigating the process of making an insurance claim or applying for assistance from the government, including through FEMA.
MoFo is helping survivors access the information they might need, in one place, with the release of the Fall 2018 California Wildfires Helping Handbook. This is the seventh in a series of handbooks dedicated to helping victims of California’s wildfires. The handbook provides up-to-date, practical information for individuals, families, and small businesses on subjects including housing, government benefits, insurance, FEMA assistance, replacement of lost documents, and fraud prevention.
The current handbook was released on November 20 and is being distributed through social media, client alerts, press releases, and in hard copy to individuals, as well as to nonprofit and governmental organizations serving people affected by the fires.
In addition to the firm updating the handbook, the MoFo Foundation is running a special challenge match for donations made by MoFo attorneys and staff through November 30. The nonprofit California ChangeLawyers (formerly the California Bar Foundation) is accepting donations to support legal assistance in the affected communities. Those interested in donating can select ‘Disaster Relief – Wildfires Legal Response’ from the dropdown menu. United Policyholders, which advises people affected by the fires on insurance matters, is also accepting donations that will provide critical recovery services to survivors such as workshops, online resources, and ‘Roadmap to Recovery’ kits.
We strongly encourage you to share this handbook with your networks. You can download a copy of the Fall 2018 Helping Handbook here.