A Helping Hand In a Time of Need

 Josh Edelson/Getty Images 

Josh Edelson/Getty Images 

I want to thank all of the Berkeley police and fire personnel who have spent the past four days helping our neighbors in Santa Rosa, Sonoma, Napa and the surrounding areas. They have been going in rotating 12-person teams of police officers and a 3-person fire crews to help fight the fires directly. Staff from Emergency Services are also going out to help coordinate the massive undertaking of managing this large-scale disaster. Some of these people have themselves been impacted by this tragedy, yet they continue to work.

In addition, the Berkeley Animal Care Services, in coordination with several East Bay shelters, have taken animals from North Bay shelters to allow those shelters to house strays and the pets of evacuees. And our Planning Department is stepping up and will soon send staff to Santa Rosa, which has asked for more building inspectors to assess the damage. This, of course, is in addition to the many, many residents who have collected items or even traveled to hard-hit areas to assist with the relief effort.

Meanwhile, please take steps to protect yourself against some of the worst air quality the Bay Area has ever seen.  Precautions being shared by the Bay Area Air Quality District include:

- Stay indoors as much as you can.
- Keep pets and loved ones indoors until the air quality changes for the better. This is especially important for kids, seniors, or have health concerns such as heart disease or asthma or you are pregnant.
- Keep your windows closed.
- Do not run fans that bring smoky outdoor air inside.
- If you find yourself repeatedly coughing, having a hard time breathing, wheezing, feeling chest tightness or pain, getting nauseous or unusually tired, or feeling lightheaded, call your healthcare provider right away.

FINANCIAL DONATIONS

Monetary donations are highly preferred because families and individuals can most easily use these donations to obtain what they need. Organizations accepting donations on behalf of those in need include:

Napa Valley Community Foundation
Sonoma County Resilience Fund
Community Foundation of Mendocino County
Redwood Credit Union

VOLUNTEER

There are many ways to get involved.

Sign up with the Red Cross or call their Sonoma County office 707-573-3399 if you're hoping to volunteer.

Lend a hand at a local evacuation center or food pantry gathering supplies for evacuees. 

The Sonoma County Volunteer Center has partnered with the Emergency Office of Communications, Shelters, and the Red Cross to streamline volunteer services in the community. To use services, call 211 - lines are open 24/7 - or visit 211sonoma.org. To volunteer, send an email to info@volunteernow.org with your full name, phone number, email address and applicable skills.

Again, I want to thank everyone for stepping up to assist our North Bay neighbors. I'm so proud to be mayor of a city that responds with such generosity in a time of crisis.

Jesse Arreguin