Written by Missy Stevens (@Missy_Stevens) of Wonder, Friend

Texas wildfires

Photograph by Deanna Roy

 
 
Texas is burning.

After the driest, hottest summer in almost a century, high winds sparked fires across the state on Sunday. One wildfire alone has burned over 34,000 acres, destroyed 600 homes and caused the complete evacuation of 20 neighborhoods. Steiner Ranch, an Austin subdivision of nearly 5,000 homes, was completely evacuated for 48 hours. During that time, 24 homes burned to the ground, and approximately 30 more were severely damaged.

That’s just two of the fires. There are so many wildfires burning that at one point Monday, a leading source for fire-related news was unable to keep count. Thousands of Texans are without homes today. Countless more are facing major clean-up efforts in homes that may have been spared destruction but are still damaged. Two deaths have been confirmed.

As of this writing, the fires are still burning. The largest is only 15 percent contained. Others have been contained, or extinguished, but still have potential for flare-ups. We cannot yet know the extent of the damage our state will suffer. But we can know this: the clean-up and rebuilding effort will not be a one-week, one-month or even one-year event.

It’s a tough time for Texas, the state facing a lengthy rebuilding and recovery process. And Austin-area bloggers had a choice: watch, in horror, from the safety of our homes, feeling helpless; or be one of the voices calling for action.

We chose the latter.

Austin—and all of Texas, for that matter—is an amazing community of people looking out for each other. Within hours of the fires breaking out, charitable and religious groups across the city launched relief efforts. There are so many groups doing so many incredible things, it’s difficult to quantify.

And yet, many of us heard people say, “I want to help, but I don’t know where to start.”

With something of this magnitude, it is often difficult to figure out what the immediate needs are, and how to meet those needs. Austin-area bloggers decided that we could help raise and maintain awareness of ongoing relief efforts.

We have started a collective endeavor under the hash tag #TXBlogFireRelief. Together, we are gathering information about relief activities, and sharing what we learn with our social networks. We are writing, tweeting, and posting Facebook messages about relief efforts as we learn of them.

This week’s most immediate needs include food, water, and hygiene items for firefighters and evacuees. As the weeks go on, we expect that needs will change and there will be more focus on rebuilding and recovery. Our goal is to post updates throughout this week, and then follow up over the coming months (and years?) with new relief information.

Austin bloggers are also coming together to host a benefit and donation drive this weekend. The women of LiveMom.com, Free Fun in Austin, A Family Village and Mama on the Verge are hosting an Austin Family Brunch at Joe’s Place; other area bloggers are helping to promote (and planning to attend!). Everyone is invited for an affordable brunch and entertainment.

As bloggers, we have a unique voice in our communities, and we’ve embraced this opportunity to raise awareness for Texas wildfire relief efforts. We thank you, Bloggers Without Borders, for helping us spread the word.

Current needs include:

• Hygiene and household items, such as soap, shampoo, deodorant, bedding, and cleaning supplies, for evacuees.
• New (packaged) socks and underwear of all sizes for men, women, children.
• Individually-packaged snacks and energy bars, water, hand wipes, eye drops, and saline solution for the firefighters.
• Monetary donations.

For more information about the organizations that are meeting these needs and how you can get involved or make donations, please take a look at the Texas bloggers link-up for fire relief efforts. You can also follow the hashtag #TXBlogFireRelief on Twitter for up-to-date links and information.

 
 

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9 Responses to Texas Wildfire Relief Efforts

  1. Thanks for taking the time to write this post, Missy. And for sharing with us a few ways that we can help, even from the other side of the country. I love seeing bloggers coming together and using this online community as a way to spread the word. We are thinking of Texas and praying for those who have been effected by the wildfires.

  2. junk gypsy says:

    ThANKS so much for this post! texas our texas is in need of lots of help!! we’re donating $1 of every sale to the wildfire relief fund!! and sending lots of prayers and thoughts and rain dances out daily!!! XOOXOXOXOX! the junkgypsies

  3. Christina says:

    Super article Missy. What a tremendous effort for a tremendous catastrophe!

  4. As a displaced Texan, and sister-in-law of a San Antonio firefighter, this entire situation makes my heart hurt. I’ll do anything I can to help. Thinking about an auction of Mexican Wedding Cookies and maybe pralines. I’ve never made them, but there’s always an impetus to start, right?

  5. Hey everyone! I’m from the Houston area and we have/had a fire about 45 minutes up the road from me, so I am also planning a post for this effort! When I get it up and running I am going have a donation drive in conjunction with a few other bloggers. If it’s cool, I’m planning on giving your link as well as a link to the Texas blogger link up.

    Thank you so much for everything you’re doing, and please let me know if there is any other way I can help!

  6. Deanie Mills says:

    We lost our 100-acre ranch, a horse barn, pens, fences, and all the grass in the West Texas wildfires of April 15 (the Cooper Mountain Fire, specifically)–we were only able to save our home because my husband and a fellow rancher fought the flames back from it. I had one hour to pack up my whole life–we raised our children in this 107-year old house and have lived here 30 years. I wrote about it on my blog at http://deaniemills.com “If You Had One Hour to Pack Up Your Whole Life, What Would You Take?”

    Anyway–my point is that the items you list–I notice you did not mention any pet supplies, and believe me, when you are grabbing things in a rush, the first thing you reach for (provided your kids are grown and gone, as mine are)–are beloved pets. Sometimes there may not be time to get, say, cat litter, litter boxes, scoops, cat food, and/or dog food, and water containers.

    I appreciate this on behalf of the victims in the TX Hill Country because I can imagine only too well their heartache. You will all be in my prayers and thoughts. God bless you.

  7. Catherine says:

    Amy’s Ice Cream (@amysicecreams) has also been collecting stuff and giving it to families in need. They’ve been saying Gatorade and school supplies are in highest demand.

  8. Jessica says:

    I’m not a blogger, but I’m part of a collective of bakers in Austin who are having a benefit bake sale this Saturday. We raised $900 for Japanese tsunami relief in six hours this spring, and I’m hoping we will greatly exceed that to help those affected by fires in our own backyard. Info is can be found via @austinchocolate or facebook.com/objectsofconfection. Thanks to everyone who is reaching out… it’s going to take all of us to help our friends and neighbors rebuild their lives.

  9. [...] found a lot of helpful info through Bloggers without Borders: Austin bloggers are coming together to host a benefit and donation drive this weekend. The women [...]