ANAHEIM - So many homes destroyed, so many lives affected and so many groups willing to step up to help.
Tuesday, the City of Anaheim opened the East Anaheim Gymnasium to victims of the Freeway Complex Fire. The fire ripped through Corona in Riverside County, Anaheim Hills, Yorba Linda and Brea in Orange County, Diamond Bar in Los Angeles County and Chino Hills in San Bernardino County. More than 250 homes were damaged or destroyed as nearly 30,000 acres burned.
"It's a joint effort," says Marty DeSollar, manager of external affairs for Anaheim, "Local, County and State Representatives are here today to help our victims on the road to recovery."
Agencies available at the Local Assistance Center include:
- American Red Cross
- Anaheim Community Foundation
- California Department of Insurance
- California Department of Veterans Affairs
- California Employment Development Division
- California Franchise Tax Board
- California Office of Vital Records
- California State Contractors License Board
- City of Anaheim
- City of Brea
- City of Corona
- City of Diamond Bar
- City of Yorba Linda
- Department of Motor Vehicles
- FEMA - Federal Emergency Managemtn Agency
- Governor's Office of Emergency Services
- Legal Aid Society
- Opperational Area
- OCFA - Orange County Fire Authority
- OCHCA - Orange County Health Care Agency
- Operation OC
- Orange County Assessor's Office
- Orange County Community Resources
- Orange County Social Services Agency
- Southern California Edison
- City of Anaheim Human Services Donation
- Orange County Office of Aging
- Orange County Employment Center
- Working Wardrobes
The fires consumed so much and now the community's response will become key to its recovery.
"It's surreal," says Dana Philbald who lost her home on Willow Tree Drive in Yorba Linda, "wake me up, I still feel like I'm having a nightmare."
Dana and her husband's nightmare started Saturday. They say they had time to only grab their family pets and take off. "You could see the wall of flames in our backyard," she said. Dana says it happened so fast, she had to leave behind an urn with her father's remains.
The Local Assistance Center is helping victims like Dana get help; from insurance experts to contractors to even clothing drives.
"It's the best bart of human nature, I think," says City of Anaheim Spokesperson Ruth Ruiz, "Neighbors helping neighbors, friends helping friends, families helping friends and building a community, seeing the good part of humanity and helping each other."
For some, it's a humbling experience. Brian Gormley lost his condo in the fire, says he watched it burn on live television. He visited the Center to see what was offered to help him move on as well. "We've gotten a lot of help from different agencies," he said, "it's great to have this help through this difficult time."
Monetary donations are being accepted at the East Anaheim Gymnasium located at 8165 East Santa Ana Canyon Road, as well as by contacting 714-765-3100. The Local Assistance Center will remain open all week from 7am to 8pm.