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Helping Lilac Fire Survivors Rebuild Their Lives

As San Diegans, we know that natural disasters like wildfires pose a threat to our communities and have the potential to significantly alter our quality of life.

That’s why when disaster strikes, it’s important that we as a region are prepared to handle these unexpected events.

This is why the San Diego Regional Disaster Fund at The San Diego Foundation exists. While we hope to never need it, the Regional Disaster Fund ensures that San Diego as a region has the organizational infrastructure and procedures in place to effectively support the community in the aftermath of any disaster.

As we experienced with previous wildfires, the road to recovery is long for survivors and community foundations play an important role in ensuring that they have ongoing support to recover and rebuild their lives during the months and sometimes years after disaster strikes.

The San Diego Regional Disaster Fund was established to prepare for regional crises and make grants to nonprofit organizations that help survivors and the region recover and rebuild from a disaster.

Lilac Fire Recovery

One year ago, the Lilac Fire burned through the Bonsall and Fallbrook communities, seriously injuring two people, destroying 114 homes and damaging over 50 more. Once the fire was fully contained, the impact stretched across 4,100 acres in the region.

It was clear from the beginning the fire was a major event. As a result, and at the request of the County of San Diego, The Foundation activated the San Diego Regional Disaster Fund to collect and manage donations to help the survivors and their communities with disaster recovery and rebuilding efforts.

In the days following, more than 200 local companies and individuals generously contributed $426,000 to the Regional Disaster Fund in support of Lilac Fire recovery and rebuilding.

View the 2017 Lilac Fire Impact Report

Their financial support translated into critical needs for those communities and individuals hit hardest by the fire. In addition, those contributions helped leverage additional dollars amounting to nearly $1 million for Lilac Fire survivors, including support such as additional unmet needs funding, volunteer labor, and individual gifts of food and vouchers to impacted households.

Lilac Fire 4100 Acres

Once the Lilac Fire was fully contained, the impact stretched across 4,100 acres in the region.

The San Diego Regional Disaster Fund Board worked with the County of San Diego and numerous regional partners to identify needs of survivors as part of an in-depth analysis. Just as it did in 2003 and 2007 during the aftermath of devastating wildfires, this Community Needs Assessment helped local organizations determine where resources were best allocated for long-term recovery.

[pullquote]Thanks to the Community Recovery Team case management, I now have a new house and can get back to my normal life.[/pullquote]

The Lilac Fire Community Needs Assessment found that there was a high proportion of underinsured Lilac Fire survivors, as well as impacted seniors and disabled residents. As a result, case management was a crucial part of the recovery process. The Regional Disaster Fund provided direct case management support through the Community Recovery Team to help survivors navigate the complex insurance process.

“After my home burned to the ground in the Lilac fire, I discovered I was underinsured by over $70,000,” shared Kenny Hawkes. “Being 67 years old and disabled, I really had nowhere to turn. Then the Community Recovery Team stepped in. Thanks to the Community Recovery Team case management, I now have a new house and can get back to my normal life.”

From helping survivors navigate the insurance process with case management support, to funding projects that have enabled families in Fallbrook and Bonsall to rebuild their homes, the dedicated volunteers of the Regional Disaster Fund Board and its many partners continue to support those impacted by the Lilac Fire.

While the process is still ongoing, The San Diego Foundation and its generous donors are proud to have played a role in helping the survivors rebuild their lives.

Learn more about the impact of the Regional Disaster Fund in the aftermath of the Lilac Fire.

Read the Impact Report

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