Community extends support to California wildfire victims

The Gujarat Samaj of Sacramento has stepped up, donating items required at a temporary shelter

Ritu Jha

Donations from the Gujarat Samaj of Sacramento for fire victims of Sonoma County.
To help victims of the Sonoma wildfires, members of the Gujarat Samaj of Sacramento have stepped up, donating items required at a temporary shelter at the Sonoma-Marin Fair in Petaluma, California.

Jaimin Upadhyay the GSS president, said members of the organization had called the Marin camps to offer any and help required.

“We share their requirements with community members,” Upadhaya told indica. He said his Samaj members donated 1,000 soaps, 400 toothbrushes and 100 tubes of toothpaste, besides packets of chips, sanitary napkins, medicines, toilet rolls and protein shakes.

“It’s the time to offer support… and everybody was ready to help,” Upadhaya said. “People in our community always help,” he added, describing how after the Nepal earthquake in 2015, GSS members raised $6,000.

Left Jaimin Upadhyay president the Gujarati Samaj of Sacramento (GSS) with Premal Mehta , executive committee member at the Sonoma Marin fair in Petaluma,Calif.

The Marin camp officials did not ask for money or gift cards, which is why those were not provided, he said.

According to, since October 8 the state has dealt with 21 major wildfires that have burned over 245,000 acres, with 11,000 firefighters battling to hold back the flames that have caused 100,000 to evacuate, destroyed an estimated 6,900 structures, and killed 42 people. The major concentrated areas were Sonoma and Napa Valley.

October 9, California Governor Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency for Napa, Sonoma and Yuba counties due to the effects of the multiple wildfires.

Another community leader, Dhanendra (Dan) Shah, a realtor and broker in Santa Rosa, California, hosted a prayer service at the Anubhuti Meditation and Retreat Center in Novato, California.

Evacuation shelter in Sonoma County,Calif.

“It’s going to be tough for everyone,” Shah told indica. “[The fire] is still burning. This is devastating. This prayer is for those who lost their property and for … people who lost their lives. This event was also [organized] to provide any help they need.”

Shah said his house escaped the blaze but about 35 doctors lost their homes in Fountain Grove in Santa
Rosa, California. In all, almost 50 Indian Americans lost their homes, he said, adding quietly, “I was their realtor.”

Most of the residents of Fountain Grove, an upmarket area, were doctors working at Kaiser Permanente, Sutter Santa Rosa Regional Hospital and St Jude Medical Center.

“My responsibility is to now help them in whatever way I can,” Shah said. “I am not looking for any kind of compensation or anything. This is a time we all come together and help out the best we can.”

Dhanendra (Dan) Shah

Insurance and mortgage problems

Despite the general confusion, the residents can apply for disaster relief to cover what insurance might not.

“It’s is not simple, like people say give me money and I will build my own,” Shah said. “The first thing the insurance companies have to build is houses.” And those houses have to look the same as the old one

“I am sure everybody has a mortgage against their houses,” he said. ““They cannot walk out, even people who have enough money. They can buy another property but cannot walk away from this yet. They have to get it built and then sell it.”

People listening to Dhanendra (Dan) Shah, a realtor and broker in Santa Rosa, Calif., he hosted a prayer service at the Anubhuti Meditation and Retreat Center in Novato, Calif. for victims of wildfires.

He said no one can buy property now because insurance companies are not going to insure the house until somebody puts in cash for it. Putting up new houses might take up to two years, during which the old residents would have to rent homes.

The Local Assistance Center and the Department of Insurance consumer assistance staff are in the area, to answer people with insurance-related questions.

Dave Jones, the California insurance commissioner, who visited the evacuation centers over the weekend said in a press note, “We will also deploy our law enforcement officers to deter scam artists
who typically flood into hard-hit areas.”

FEMA requirements

FEMA already offers disaster assistance to Sonoma County residents impacted by the wildfires.

People impacted by the Sonoma County wildfires must register with FEMA for federal aid, even if they have registered with other disaster relief organizations such as Red Cross.


Related posts

Leave a Reply