Our communities are under a state of emergency as the devastating wildfires continue to blaze in Northern California. With at least six fatalities, multiple injuries and untold property damage, 349,890 acres have burned so far in Colusa, Mendocino and here in Lake County. This is now the largest fire in state history.
First of all, the Habematolel Pomo of Upper Lake Tribe would like to thank the firefighters and the emergency responders who are heroically combatting this fire every single day. Their bravery, hard work and dedication under the most extreme conditions deserve our utmost gratitude.
As the catastrophic destruction continues to unfold, we are here to help. From helping to pick up the pieces to assisting the long process of rebuilding, we stand – and will continue to stand – united with the community during this challenging time. In order to mitigate the devastating aspects of this tragedy, we have already taken a series of steps to offer assistance amid this dire situation. So far, the Pomo of Upper Lake has:
- Provided salaries and benefits for all employees of the tribe and its businesses in Upper Lake, even during evacuated periods;
- Provided services to over 100 displaced community members and their extended families, including covering hotel rooms for shelter, food and cash assistance; and
- Provided assistance in the form of cash advances to Running Creek Casino employees until they can get back on their feet.
We took these actions because we understand firsthand how upending wildfires can be and how traumatic their consequences are on families, neighbors and communities connected to this region. And we know that time is of the essence as many people displaced by the horrific fires cannot afford to wait to receive assistance.
This is not an abstract exercise for the Habematolel Pomo of Upper Lake Tribe. Those of us in the Lake County area are no strangers to experiencing the widespread devastation from fires. Indeed, for many people in our community, it feels as though we have only just turned the corner on the fires that wreaked havoc here last fall and winter. Then, like now, we offered thousands of dollars in assistance for our neighbors, and we encourage others in our community to also give back as much as they can to help those individuals who are still struggling.
Because we understand the unimaginable challenges displaced people are facing today, we know that it is our duty and responsibility to lend assistance to those who need a helping hand. This support will not replace everything that has been lost, but it will provide a critical lifeline in the form of continuity for workers and their families, and hopefully, it will serve as a bridge to a stronger future.
It is our abiding goal to improve the lives of people around us: from the individuals and families in our Habematolel Pomo of Upper Lake Tribe and county, to the extended communities where we live and work, to the natural environment on which we all depend. This commitment gets tested during these extraordinary circumstances, and we intend to honor it to the fullest extent possible. Stay safe, reach out and let us know how else we can best help those in dire need throughout the Lake County area.