The California Drought Relief Fund, a project of the Climate Relief Fund, announced grants of more than $140,000 to local community groups working on drought and wildfire relief in California. Below is the full press release. You can see read more about the campaign here: droughtrelief.org.
California Drought Relief Fund Distributes Funds to Assist Communities Devastated by Drought and Wildfires
More than $140,000 distributed to local relief agencies with a focus on Central Valley communities that have run out of water
SAN FRANCISCO, CA, November 10, 2015 – The California Drought Relief Fund, which was launched on August 26, 2015, announced its first grants to help families and communities impacted by the state’s unprecedented drought and dangerous wildfires. The funds, totalling more than $140,000, are being distributed to three relief organizations: Self-Help Enterprises (SHE), the Environmental Justice Coalition for Water (EJCW) and the California Fire Foundation (CFF). SHE and EJCW will help dozens of families whose wells have run dry in the San Joaquin and Salinas Valleys. The CFF supports firefighters and operates the SAVE program, which helps first responders distribute immediate cash relief to wildfire victims.
The California Drought Relief Fund was launched with an initial donation of $100,000 from Tom Steyer and Kat Taylor. Hundreds of Californians also made small contributions online, many of them members of the California-based Courage Campaign and climate change advocacy organization 350.org, who asked their members to donate. The California Wellness Foundation also made a grant to support the fund, as did the utility Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E).
Through higher temperatures and decreased precipitation, climate change has exacerbated California’s record drought and wildfires. Ninety-five percent of the state is in severe, extreme or exceptional drought. From January through October 2015, CalFire responded to fires that burned approximately 307,000 acres, more than three times the average during the past five years.
Maria Marquez, a 50-year-old resident of the Highland Acres community in Tulare County, is one of the people receiving support via Self-Help Enterprises. Maria lives with her two daughters and grandchildren. Their well went dry in June 2014 and they have lived without running water since then. A new well would cost more than $30,000 – more than her annual earnings from the food truck where she is employed. Self-Help Enterprises is providing Maria with a pressurized water tank, which provides water for sanitation, hygiene and cleaning. “I’m very happy that there is a funding source that can help homeowners and rental properties, because they both need water,” Maria said.
Fund recipients and partners provided the following additional comments:
Tom Collishaw, CEO of Self-Help Enterprises: “People in the communities we serve are literally running out of water, and many, including renters, are not eligible for state aid. The crisis is immediate and these families are taking drastic measures to meet their basic water needs for cooking, cleaning and keeping their home healthy and safe. We’re grateful for the California Drought Relief Fund's help in filling this gap.”
Lou Paulson, Chairman of the California Fire Foundation: "The dangerous wildfires, fueled by nearly half a decade of drought made worse by climate change, have put California’s firefighters and the communities they serve at unprecedented risk. At times like these, the California Fire Foundation is there to bring comfort to the families of fallen firefighters and critical support for the victims of fire and natural disaster."
Colin Bailey, Executive Director of the Environmental Justice Coalition for Water: “The challenges of climate change and the current drought are felt most acutely in the communities with the fewest resources to respond. In 2012, before the drought, these same communities helped make California the first state in the nation declaring that all humans have a right to safe, clean, affordable water for domestic use. The California Drought Relief Fund will help make this right a lasting reality.”
The California Drought Relief Fund will accept contributions through the end of 2015. Visitwww.droughtrelief.org to learn more and make a contribution.
For more information or to arrange interviews, please contact:
Daniel Souweine, California Drought Relief Fund
917.613.3523 / firstname.lastname@example.org
Sonia Sanchez, Self-Help Enterprises
559.802.1689 / SoniaS@selfhelpenterprises.org
Extreme Poverty in the San Joaquin Valley
U.S. Drought Monitor for California
Contribution of anthropogenic warming to the California drought during 2012-2014
California Wildfire Statistics
The California Drought and Climate Change