There has been an outpouring of support from people around the Bay Area who want to help the victims of the San Bruno gas line explosion. Dozens of people lost everything and many more face lengthy evacuation orders.
Those who lost homes and property face mountains of paperwork and insurance claims.
Volunteers are asking for donations of basic medical supplies, perishable foods, toiletries and clothing to assist those affected by Thursday night's fire in San Bruno.
Red Cross San Bruno Victims Hotline: 1-888-4-HELP-BAY
PG&E Claims Hotline: 415-973-8901
Red Cross Bay Area: 1-888-4-HELP-BAY or www.redcrossbayarea.org
Salvation Army: 1-800-Sal-Army or www.salvationarmyusa.org
Blood Centers of the Pacific: 1-800-393-GIVE or www.bloodcenters.org
The donations continue to pour in to the Veterans Memorial Recreation Center, located at 251 City Park Way. Items of major need include washed clothes, canned goods, diapers, toiletries, undergarments and shoes, said Colleen Williams, who came in from Pacifica to assist.
Volunteers worked through the night at the center organizing donations and assisting people displaced by the fire, Williams said. At least a dozen people slept at the center and another six to seven more took shelter at the local senior center, she said.
"A lot of hotels have been very generous," said city councilwoman Irene O'Connell. "A lot of people have friends and relatives in the area."
The Red Cross has already assisted several hundred people in various capacities since the fire began at about 6:15 p.m. Thursday, according to spokesman Steve Sharp. Nearly 30 of those people stayed in a shelter overnight at the recreation center, Sharp said.
A second shelter is located adjacent to the recreation center at the senior center. The Red Cross is also providing an evacuation center, located at the Bayhill Shopping Center at the intersection of San Bruno Avenue and Cherry Street.
Sharp said the organization's assistance with the victims "will be going on for some time. Days, maybe weeks."
The Federal Emergency Management Agency announced today it has authorized federal funds to help local and state firefighters battle the San Bruno fire.
The authorization allows FEMA to reimburse 75 percent of eligible firefighting costs, including for equipment and supplies, evacuations and sheltering, police barricades and traffic control, FEMA said in a statement.
The remaining 25 percent would be paid by individual jurisdictions and the state.
The authorization was approved late Thursday night, according to FEMA spokesman John Hamill.
"Our hearts go out to the residents of San Bruno in the wake of this horrific fire," said Nancy Ward, FEMA regional administrator, in a statement.
"I want to assure them and our local and state partners that FEMA is here to make sure that California has the resources needed to fight this fire, and that the federal government will remain with the state every step of the way," Ward said.
Insurance companies are also moving to assist victims. Robert Hartwig, president of the Insurance Information Institute, said that insured losses from the disaster could reach into the tens of millions of dollars. Telephone numbers for wildfire insurance claims from the Insurance Informatin Network of California.
Those whose homes or cars are damaged or destroyed by the fire are asked to contact their insurers as soon as possible, according to the nonprofit Insurance Information Network of California.
Residents are asked to make a list of damaged or destroyed property, and those who have been evacuated should provide current contact information to their insurers.
Farmers Insurance is sending mobile claims vehicles which are expected to arrive Saturday morning.
Farmers Insurance customers should call the company's 24-hour claims hotline at (800) 435-7764. Spanish speakers can call (877) 732-5266. Foremost Insurance customers can call (800) 527-3907 and 21st Century Insurance customers can call (888) 244-6163.
- For information on how to donate to the Red Cross, visit www.redcrossbayarea.org or call (888) 4-HELP-BAY.People wishing to donate items in person are asked to take them to the First Tongan United Methodist Church, located at 560 El Camino Real in San Bruno. "We are absolutely buried with donations here, so we would prefer if people don't bring gifts to the evacuation center or shelter," Sharp said.
- Blood Centers of the Pacific issued a statement today saying there has been "an overwhelming response" from people wanting to give blood for those injured by the San Bruno fire, but asked donors to hold off until next week or later. The center said that steady supplies of blood are being provided to local hospitals."It is essential that the blood currently being used be replenished in the coming weeks," the center said. Donation centers and blood drives are experiencing long wait times, and are asking donors to postpone blood donations until next week or the week after.
- San Bruno residents whose homes were damaged or destroyed by the fire, or who are otherwise unable to get to their homes, can pick up their mail at the San Bruno Main Post Office. The post office is located at 1300 Huntington Ave. and is open Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon. Those with questions about mail delivery can call the post office at (650) 952-2901. For long-term delivery changes, call (800) 275-8777 or visit www.usps.com. Mail delivery will continue as scheduled to San Bruno neighborhoods unaffected by the fire.
- The A’s will collect funds for the American Red Cross during A’s/Boston games this weekend; to donate online visit redcrossbayarea.org.
- Safeway is donating $25,000 to the American Red Cross to help people affected by Thursday’s explosion. In addition to the financial donation and the ongoing food and supplies being provided by local Safeway stores, the company is giving grocery gift cards to the families who were impacted. Stores are also accepting donations for the victims.
Bay City News