Angora donation centers filled to overflowing
The Angora Fire in South Lake Tahoe wreaked havoc among hundreds of residents, many losing all possessions beyond what they could hastily pack and the clothes on their backs.
But in the face of tragedy, residents of surrounding communities have rallied in generous support of their South Tahoe neighbors.
“You could tell there was so much care and compassion by the people in Truckee and North Tahoe who wanted to help,” said Leisa Peterson, who coordinated a donation effort in Truckee.
For many, donations exceeded expectations.
“The outpouring from this community is awe-inspiring,” said John Walker of the Westshore Association. “It was really just a heart-warming thing to see.”
Throughout Truckee and the North Shore, good Samaritans flooded donation centers with clothing, toiletries, food, water, toys, bedding and even pet supplies.
“I could not believe how much stuff was [at the Conference Center],” said Pam LeFrancois of the North Tahoe Public Utility District. “It was awesome.”
Cindy Gustafson of the Tahoe City Public Utility District said donations at the Rideout Community Center took half the gym’s floor space.
Goods were sent in truckloads to centers in South Tahoe, which became so cramped by the piles of clothing and necessities they received that they started to turn donors away.
“We have had carloads and truckloads of donations nonstop since the beginning of last week,” said Kim Nesbitt of the Sierra Recovery Center in South Tahoe. “We have an overload of supplies and we still have people calling to donate. We’ve had to turn people away because we have so much and there is no more room.”
Volunteers at donation centers at Lake Tahoe Christian Fellowship in South Tahoe and MontBleu resort echoed Nesbitt’s response.
“[The donations] have rallied the whole lake together and certainly the surrounding areas,” said General Manager Patrick Bassney of MontBleu Resort, Casino and Spa.
After a week of nonstop donations, most of the North Shore and Truckee’s donation efforts have closed, and emergency centers in South Tahoe have slightly different requests.
“Each case and each person is different,” said Red Cross spokesperson Amber Beck. “Somebody might have a place to stay, whereas somebody [else] might not. The Red Cross has trained volunteers to sit down with each person and determine what it is they need. Emergency assistance might be assistance for groceries, shelter, medicine.”
The Red Cross is only accepting monetary donations to support emergency financial assistance for those in need. St. Theresa Catholic Church Parish Hall is looking for nonperishable food. The Lake Tahoe Humane Society is seeking out pet food, cat litter, pans, towels and foster homes for evacuated pets. The First Baptist Church in South Tahoe posted a wall of wish lists from families in need.
“I think in disasters it just gets overwhelming really quickly because people just want to help,” Peterson said.
Walker said the donations at Rideout will be stored until the need is replenished when fire victims are settled and start rebuilding their lives.
“These people will need things in stages, and it will get to them in stages. That’s the good part about it,” Walker said.