Monday, January 18, 2016

Mountain Ranch: Community spirit prevails in the face of disaster




Wildfire. It’s destructive, horrifying, and frightening. It’s also part of life in California, and more than ever in the face of historic drought conditions. As a lifelong resident, I know the rear that accompanies every summer, the heartache that comes with the news of every new fire. This year, the fire season came closer to my doorstep than it has since I was a child.
The Butte Fire ranks among the ten most destructive in the history of the state. My home, and my hometown of Rail Road Flat were directly in it’s path. Despite being evacuated for nearly a week, my family was fortunate. The heroic work of the brave men and women of Cal Fire, along with many other firefighters and first responders stopped the beast, shortly before if devoured my town. Unfortunately, for many communities in the area, it was too late.
Mountain Ranch was one of the hardest hit, and has emerged as a pillar of strength and a beacon of hope, an example of the strength of community, and the strength of a very special type of people. It is a small mountain community, where many people live hand-to-mouth. Many cannot afford insurance, often they do not even have transporting to leave town. That hasn’t stopped friends, neighbors, local businesses, and complete strangers from coming together in an effort to deliver much needed help.
A team of volunteers, many of whom have lost their own homes, have banned together in an amazing effort to collect, coordinate, and deliver supplies. Because most of the town had burned, the local ball park has become the center of nearly all operations. Volunteers are bringing donations from overflowing sites in larger cities to Mountain Ranch by the truckload. Helping hand have appeared to sort, categorize, and organize piles of clothing and camping supplies. Others are driving supplies to people who cannot leave their property.
Anyone interested in learning more about, or donating to, the Mountain Ranch relief efforts can visit this Facebook group, Mountain Ranch Needs and Volunteers, or contact Earth Cause (office@earthcause.org).

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