Fire fund extends deadlines for Angora victims
Appeal Staff Writer
The deadline for victims of the Angora fire to apply for financial assistance through the Angora Fire Fund has been extended through the end of September, organizers announced Friday.
“We discovered that a lot of home owners who thought they were OK have started to discover they aren’t,” said Betty “B” Gorman of the South Lake Tahoe Chamber of Commerce. “Our whole goal is to get money into the hands of the people who need it.”
While flames were still burning in the Tahoe basin, Gorman worked with business and community leaders to establish the original organization called Local for Locals.
A little more than a week later, it evolved into a nonprofit called the Angora Fire Fund, run by a board made up of community members.
Mark Lucksinger was named president of that board.
“When they asked me to do it, I said, ‘Of course.’ When you consider the need, I doubt anybody would turn it down.”
He said the organization has received $328,818 in donations, and so far 134 displaced residents have applied for aid.
Administration expenses, he said, come to about $1,045, which mostly went to setting up the nonprofit status.
“We have no salaries, no rent,” he said. “Very few overhead expenses.”
Applicants can receive up to $1,000 to assist with immediate needs.
The donations from community members and businesses, he said, can ease some of the unforeseen expenses.
Not everyone who lost a home in the Angora fire had insurance. And many of those who did, didn’t have enough.
Adding to the cost of rebuilding, home owners must also pay for temporary housing until their homes are completed, not to mention clothing, food and other essential supplies lost in the fire.
And there are those who were renting and now must start over with no possessions.
“It’s just such a horrible tragedy these people are facing,” Lucksinger said. “We need to get involved to help.”
Lucksinger’s home near Gardner Mountain was spared in the fire that consumed about 3,100 acres and destroyed 254 homes in South Lake Tahoe.
“I’m not sure how to relate to someone who lost their home and all their possessions,” he said. “I’m not sure anyone can unless they’ve been in that situation.”
Gorman said that is the intention of the organization – to allow residents to help their neighbors.
“It’s very cathartic,” she said. “It’s very much about a sense of community and a sense of place.”
Although, she said, national relief organizations serve an important role during disasters, the focus of the Angora Fire Fund is to keep donations in the community.
It may also help in future disasters.
“God forbid if this happens again we’ll have the framework of an organization that will be better able to deal with it,” Lucksinger said.
Another board has also been formed to create a Community Disaster Resource Center.
It will serve as a clearinghouse for information and resources, as well as provide caseworkers to asses the unmet needs of the fire victims. A process will be developed to ensure the proper organizations are alerted so the needs can be filled.
It should be ready to go next week, Gorman said.
Applications for aid from the Angora Fire Fund are available at either the California or Nevada Visitor Centers or at http://www.helptahoe.com. Board members, who are listed on the Web site, will also have applications available at their businesses.
For more information on the Angora Fire Fund or to donate, visit http://www.helptahoe.com. Donations may also be made at any US Bank, or by mail to the Angora Fire Fund P.O. Box 17640, South Lake Tahoe, CA 96151.
• Contact reporter Teri Vance at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1272.