California fires: how we’re providing aid and ways you can help

Over the last week, three wildfires have devastated communities
in California, and there’s been a tremendous effort—on the part
of firefighters, first responders, local officials and NGOs—to
contain the flames and help thousands of displaced families. Since
the start of the fires, we’ve deployed resources to help those
affected in our own backyard. Here’s a bit more on that, and how
you can help.

Improving access to information

When the fires broke out, Google’s Crisis Response team
activated SOS
Alerts
, allowing people impacted by the disaster to access
local emergency information, news and maps of the affected areas.
With networks down, it soon it became evident that getting online
was a top concern.

In collaboration with the Information Technology Disaster Resource
Center
(ITDRC), Google volunteers have been on the ground
helping communities get back online, allowing many to reconnect
with families and friends, file insurance claims, and—when
possible—get back to school or work. They set up WiFi and
connected Chromebooks at shelters, distribution centers, churches
and clinics, serving over 1,000 evacuees. In just a couple of days,
these connections allowed over a dozen shelter guests to be matched
to missing persons list entries.

ITDRC and our volunteers are also working in Southern California
to capture aerial and street-level imagery of the impacted areas.
These images will be used to augment existing digital maps allowing
emergency managers to evaluate the impact of the fires.

Beyond information, there are many critical needs to be met
during a crisis of this proportion, including food and shelter.
Google.org and Googlers have donated over $1.5 million to support
those impacted by the fires. This includes a $500,000 direct grant
from Google.org to efforts like the NorCal Disaster Relief
Fund
and the Southern
California Disaster Relief Fund
.

By leveraging existing partnerships with merchants and carriers,
the Google Shopping team has also made a $100,000 in-kind donation
of food and basic essentials to local food banks through Feeding America.Everyone can
help

SOS Alerts is a gateway for people to make donations, 100% of
which goes to the Center
for Disaster Philanthropy
, and will be directed to highly
impactful organizations spearheading recovery efforts. To date,
over 3,500 people have given money to support the victims of the
fires through Google, making donations from five dollars, to as
much as $500.

Today, we want to invite others to donate as well, to the
victims of the
Camp Fire
or to the victims of the
Southern California
fires. Anyone can also make donations
directly to organizations like the
American Red Cross
, which is working shelter to those
displaced, the Wildfire Relief
Fund
, which is supporting long-term recovery and preparedness,
or the Latino
Community Foundation
as they support groups providing aid to
families and farmworker communities in the affected areas.

California is our home. It’s where we were founded and where
over a third of all Google employees live. There is much more to be
done and we’ll stay engaged in support of recovery efforts
throughout the state during the days and months ahead.

Source: FS – Social Media Blogs 2
California fires: how we’re providing aid and ways you can help