SANTA ROSA (KRON) — After the North Bay Firestorm hit, thousands of Bay Area residents stepped up to help and to donate money.
On Tuesday night, we are looking into exactly how all those donations are being used.
The North Bay Fire Relief fund alone has raised more than $23 million for fire victims.
KRON4’s Spencer Blake went to find out how and when that money will be distributed.
Right now, the question is less of which organization will distribute money to what needs, and more of looking and the timeline of needs.
Another question is, who will spend money on the three stages of relief, recovery, and rebuilding?
The devastating North Bay fires happened seven weeks ago, but they’re still fresh on everybody’s mind in the Bay Area.
Collectively, various fundraisers, like the KRON4 telethon with the Salvation Army, for example, have brought in $50 million to help fire victims.
“What we have to do with all of that generosity is assure that we are spreading it out over what may be a number of years,” President of Community Foundation Sonoma County Elizabeth Brown said.
Brown says in most disasters, 75 percent of funds raised come in immediately and are given out immediately. That’s part one of the timeline–relief.
The North Bay Fire Relief Fund, for example, raised $22 million and plans to spend all of that money by May 31.
That’s about the time that other groups will just begin spending their money for the mid-term phase, or recovery.
“You don’t know yet what you don’t know in some ways, and you have to be patient and learn what really your long-term strategy will be,” Brown said.
Think of it this way–Tipping Point Community raised $17 million through the Band Together benefit concert and just announced another concert coming up on the Dec. 14 because the fires are still so recent.
But if organizations were to run out of relief money too quickly, it would be virtually impossible to have a successful fundraiser, say three years after the fires happened.
Around that time, these nonprofits will be trying to help with things like mental health.
“This was really a collective, traumatic experience, and I think things like post-traumatic stress–you don’t see that immediately, so that’s one of the things I think we’re going to need a lot of mental health support for the victims of the fire,” Brown said.
Brown also says the meeting on Tuesday was a good first step in laying a strategy for distributing all the funds.
Tipping Point Community has a breakdown of how their immediate relief funds will be distributed on their website.
The North Bay fire relief is accepting grant applications right now at rcucommunityfund.org and will be through Dec. 11.
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