California is in recovery after multiple wildfires raged across the state in recent weeks leaving nearly 90 people dead, hundreds missing, and thousands more homeless.
Sophomore television broadcasting major Isabella Torres spent a week back home in Tarzana helping displaced friends and family who have since lost their homes to the California fires.
“I have asthma and the air quality was horrible,” Torres said. “I had to be rushed to the hospital because I was having trouble breathing. It was safer for me to come back to campus.
“Four of my friends are now homeless. They’ve been away at college and are now coming back to nothing,” Torres said. “Before I left I stood at the remains of one of my friends’ houses with her and it’s been completely burned to ash. There’s nothing left. It’s so sad.”
Jay Jones, professor of biology and biochemistry, said that forest fires smolder for long periods of time, making it difficult to put out entirely. The coming rains can help fight the fires, he said.
“The rains are good because it will bring down dust and wash ash and soot away,” Jones said. “It can also restore vegetation. We live in a much drier climate in the geological timeline, so that would be a benefit.”
Jones added that the rain can also improve air quality in the areas affected.
The major fires, the Camp, Woolsey and Hill fires, have all been 100 percent contained according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
However, mudslides and mudflows leave the burned areas at high risk in the current rainy season.
The problem with the rain is the possibility of soils becoming oversaturated, which leads
to earth movements like mudslides, Jones said.
“There isn’t much we can do to prevent the damage from mass wasting,” Jones said. “In the long term, drainage can be installed in unconsolidated areas.”
Jones said if mudslides were to happen, it would be best to move people away from the area and to move any important items to someplace safe.
The concerns of mudflows are not just the risk to the areas affected recently by fires; they also pose a risk to thise areas that were affected by fires over the summer.
The California wildfire recovery calls for all hands on deck as the state heads toward another rainy winter season.
Want to help fire recovery efforts?
You can visit the California Community Foundation’s Wildfire Relief Fund to make a direct donation to wildfire victims at connect.calfund.org/give/wildfirerelief.
For more information on how you can help with the wildfire recovery efforts, contact the organizations below:
● American Red Cross: redcross.org
● Direct Relief: directrelief.org
● Salvation Army: salvationarmy.org
● North Valley Community Foundation: nvcf.org
● California Fire Foundation: cafirefoundation.org
For more information on how you can donate to firefighters who put out the wildfires:
● Entertainment Industry Foundation: eifoundation.org
● Butte County Firefighter Benevolent Foundation: gofundme.com/camp-fire-firefighter-disaster-fund
● Los Angeles Fire Dept. Foundation: supportlafd.org
For more information on how you can help animals affected by the wildfires:
● Humane Society of Ventura County: hsvc.org
● VCA Animal Hospitals: vcahospitals.com
● North Valley Animal Disaster Group: nvadg.org
David Gonzalez can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jaycie Thierry can be reached at email@example.com.