August 27, 2021

Avoiding Wildfire Disasters: Preparedness and Recovery

Fire Danger Sign

By Jamie Albrecht

The 2020 California wildfire season set records for the most catastrophic fire season. The 2021 fire season is currently on track to exceed its damage.

Wildfires have severe impacts on frontline communities. People with low incomes are more likely to lose their homes and struggle to recover. People who are undocumented receive little support to prepare or recover. Evacuation is harder for those who don’t speak English, people with disabilities and seniors.

Planned power-shutoffs are common occurrences as an attempt to limit fire ignition on risky days, yet losing electricity for hours or days at a time is devastating for people with certain medical conditions, and families on fixed incomes often lose food that they cannot spare

Wildfire has always been part of the California ecosystem. Native Americans have always used fire as a tool to care for the land and prevent wildfires, a practice called cultural burning. We can manage fire risk through design, construction and ongoing careful operation and stewardship of infrastructure, land sites and housing.

Through our Community Powered Resilience program, we know it’s critical for the people most impacted to create the solutions. Grounded in the experience, expertise and partnership with frontline communities, we've compiled resources and tools below to help keep your family, your residents, your community and California safe from wildfire disasters.

Key resources for immediate needs

Actions for individuals and households

Actions for community-based organizations and housing providers

Actions for local government

Actions for philanthropy

  • Read this guidance from Justice Funders on how philanthropy can dismantle white supremacy and move towards a just transition.
  • Develop a fund for creating defensible spaces that will go to frontline communities, with very low-barrier application requirements.
  • Look for opportunities to support the government’s fire resilience work with frontline communities by offering to support engagement, outreach and data collection.
  • Invest in strategies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, including solar power and public transportation. Community gardens are a great way to do this and provide food for people during power shutoffs.
  • Give to Native organizing efforts and movements to regain stewardship of land.
  • Support the development of more affordable housing in high-density areas that are less impacted by wildfires.
  • Support disaster-related social programs that the government doesn’t reach
    • Mutual aid programs that get people necessary items quickly
    • Organizations that support people who are undocumented and immigrants
    • Mental health services post-disaster, as intimate partner violence increases dramatically during disasters
    • Provide transportation support for people who need to evacuate and travel away from home

About our Community Powered Resilience program

Disasters don’t treat all people equally. Frontline communities – Black, Indigenous and people of color, immigrants, non-English speakers, people with lower incomes, people with disabilities and seniors – are impacted more severely by disasters due to historic patterns of discrimination.

Our Community Powered Resilience program is creating a participatory and inclusive model for equitable disaster resilience and recovery that centers frontline communities and shapes planning for future disasters in California. We offer convenings and collaboration, policy, process development, advocacy and technical assistance using effective, user-friendly tools.

Look out for our signature website with user-friendly tools and actions steps coming this fall!

For more information about the tips and tools and our Community Powered Resilience Program, contact Jamie Albrecht at jalbrecht@enterprisecommunity.org.

Opp360 logo

For full access to our tools and resources, please provide the information below.

We use this data to better understand our users; we do not sell or share this data. By providing this information, you can expect to receive newsletters and other updates from Opportunity360.