October 14th, 2017
Fueled by high winds, fast-moving wildfires in the California wine country and the Anaheim Hills have spread quickly—killing dozens, damaging tens of thousands of acres, destroying infrastructure, forcing evacuations, and leaving hundreds of people unaccounted for.
Like many people in the Bay Area, my first news of the North Bay fires was the smell of smoke Monday morning. My thoughts immediately turned to my family and childhood home in Santa Rosa. My family was safe, but I raced up to Petaluma to see how I could help. In addition to needed resources on the ground, I saw how centralized information can be crucial to help people find shelter and other resources.
SOS Alerts and Fire Information
On Monday, the Crisis Response team launched an SOS Alert—a set of features in Google Search and Maps that helps you quickly understand what’s going on and decide what to do during a crisis. After launching the Alert, the Crisis Response team created a Crisis Map with shelter locations, vacancy status, pet accommodations and shelter needs, crowdsourced via waze.com, local volunteers, and Googlers such as myself. The map has been updated to include recent satellite imagery for the North Bay area as well.
In addition to these map-based resources, the team has pushed out air-quality resources via Google Feed, with information from the Bay Area Air Quality Management District and American Lung association.
$1 million for fire relief and recovery
To help with the relief and recovery in California, Google.org and Googlers are committing $1 million in donations to organizations that are providing critical resources in the affected regions. To support immediate needs, we’re distributing funds to the Redwood Empire Food Bank and the Red Cross. We’re also supporting the Napa Valley Community Foundation, the Community Foundation Sonoma County, and the Latino Community Foundation, which are coordinating the longer-term fire recovery initiatives.
Google.org will support these organizations and others to identify ways Google volunteers can bring value to the affected areas. Right now, we’re in discussions with the Information Technology Disaster Resource Center and have sent a team of technical Googler volunteers to assess the connectivity needs of first responders and evacuees.
Efforts on the ground
Google Express is also providing in-kind donations of ready-to-eat, non-perishable foods to benefit the Redwood Empire Food Bank. And Google’s food team will partner with Off the Grid to provide more than 25,000 meals via food trucks to Napa and Sonoma County shelters over the next month.
My hometown of Santa Rosa is one of many that has been devastated, and the fires are still active in Northern California and the Anaheim Hills. As the situation progresses, Google will continue to update the Crisis Map and SOS alerts to help deliver the most up-to-date information available. My thoughts are with the North Bay community and others that have been impacted by recent natural disasters around the world.