Announcing the California Drought Relief Fund

Announcing the California Drought Relief Fund

When we launched the Climate Relief Fund last year, we set out with the mission to help the victims of big climate disasters like Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy, and Typhoons Haiyan and Hagupit. But as we came into 2015 one disaster that we couldn’t stop thinking about was happening right in our own backyard: the California drought. This slow-moving disaster is far from the giant cyclones of the world, but it’s no less dire.

California is experiencing its worst drought in the last 1,200 years, and 2014 came in as the worst single year ever. More than 95% of the state is experiencing extreme to exceptional drought.

California Drought Monitor August 18

The reality of climate change is hitting home in California, and the results are devastating. Now we are well into the fourth year of the drought, and thousands of Californians have literally run out of water in the Central Valley. Thousands more agricultural workers have lost their jobs. Firefighters across the state are deep into an extremely destructive wildfire season.

Californians are hurting, and they need our help. That’s why we here at the Climate Relief Fund are excited to launch the California Drought Relief Fund, unveiled today at

100% of money raised during this campaign will go to local, on-the-ground groups who know best what their communities need. These projects include delivering emergency bottled water, providing temporary household water storage tanks and filling services, along with longer projects like connecting houses to municipal water supplies and helping with low-interest loans for wells and other solutions. We’re also supporting firefighters and the people they help who are impacted by drought-fueled wildfires.

The California Drought Relief Fund is made possible with the generous financial support of nonprofit founders and philanthropists Tom Steyer and Kat Taylor. Additional partners are spreading the word in email and social media to crowdfund more donations, and we hope you you can donate and share too.

The science is becoming clear: climate change is making droughts more likely and more devastating. There is also increasing evidence that the persistent high pressure system off the coast of California that is largely responsible for our lack of participation, sometimes called the “Ridiculously Resilient Ridge,” is linked to climate change. Despite a possible El Nino this coming winter, predictions are that the conditions will only get worse.

Another goal of the campaign is to raise awareness of climate’s link to extreme droughts and wildfires. If we don’t want our state (and other areas of the world) to turn into a permanent dust bowl, we need to redouble our efforts to tackle climate change now. 

Edmund and Evangeline Chavez live in East Porterville, CA -- the dustiest edges of the drought. They found out that their 94-year-old next door neighbor’s well had gone dry in February and they strung a hose across their yard to help her out. But a few months later their well ran dry too. It was particularly hard for Evangeline. “After being spoiled by having water and then all of a sudden we don’t, it hurts. It’s hard to get used to.” She also has a skin condition called psoriasis, and without taking a shower regularly, it got worse.

But relief for the Chavez’s came in April in the form of a 2,500 gallon water tank, delivered and installed by Self-Help Enterprises, one of the relief providers that is supported by our campaign.

After the tank was installed, Evangeline’s skin symptom cleared up. “After we got the water, I could see the difference,” Evangeline says, “It feels good to have water now.”

We’re excited to be helping families like these with the California Drought Relief Fund. Thank you for your support.

Camron Assadi
Climate Relief Fund

Map: U.S. Drought Monitor
Photos: Sarah Craig