Six resources focused on post-wildfire community recovery. Photo: Northern California wildfires as of October 9, 2017. Credit: NASA

Topic: Wildfire recovery Type: Tools / Resources

6 Resources to Help Communities Recover After Wildfire

Authors: Annie Schmidt Washington Fire Adapted Communities Learning Network

As a practitioner, sometimes one of our most difficult tasks is sifting through available resources for communities. There is a lot of information available in this world! The process of sifting and sorting is particularly important when helping communities recover after a wildfire, as individuals and communities impacted by wildfire or experiencing loss are often overwhelmed with needs, emotions and offers of help.

You must be able to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they may be … while simultaneously never losing the faith that you will prevail in the end.

This resource round-up is designed for community-level wildfire practitioners (people working on the ground in communities) to help with the sorting process. There is definitely more information available, but this is a great starting point if you are looking for post-wildfire recovery information. We did not cover long-term community recovery resources in this round-up, but if you are looking for that specifically, this guide will provide a starting point (PDF, 1450 KB).

Resources to Help You Communicate with Your Community

  1. After the Fire Toolkit: Designed to allow community coalitions, local wildfire coordinating groups, fire districts and other wildfire organizations to respond to post-fire community needs quickly, accurately and comprehensively with pre-designed, customizable public service announcements, door hangers, brochures and social media templates. You can enter contact information, change the resources to be appropriate for your community, and start getting the word out.

What it does well: If post-wildfire floods and debris flows are concerns, it is a starting point for outreach to communities.

What it does not do well: The graphic may not look enough like your place. We made another one with different topography (PDF, 183 KB).

Infographic of actions to take around a home after a fire

The After the Fire Toolkit offers pre-designed, customizable public service announcements, door hangers, brochures and social media templates. Click on the image above to access it. Credit: AfterTheFireWA.org

  1. Carlton Complex Natural Resources Guide (PDF, 592 KB): Shows you how one natural resource agency helped landowners navigate assistance programs.

What it does well: Gives landowners a concrete, step-by-step decision tree on who to call and when.

What it does not do well: Delve into anything other than natural resources recovery, i.e., no debris removal or social service topics covered.

Resources to Share Directly with Community Members

  1. After Wildfire: A Guide for New Mexico Communities: Thorough overview of community recovery issues, including those beyond natural resources.

What it does well: Touches on everything.

What it does not do well: It is long, but a condensed version is also available (PDF, 4.6 MB). Also, it is place specific, so people may discard it because it is branded to New Mexico.

  1. California Forest Landowners Recovery Guide (PDF, 3404 KB)

What it does well: Gives landowners information about forest recovery, erosion processes, and California-specific contacts for more information. Would be an excellent starting point for replication in your place.

What it does not do well: Delve into anything other than natural resources recovery (no debris removal or social service topics covered). Specific to California. An alternative resource for the inland Northwest is available but is longer and quite detailed (PDF, 3583 KB).

Screenshot of first page of California Forest Landowners Recovery Guide, one of the resources designed to help communities recover after wildfire covered in this post

Click to access the California Forest Landowners Recovery Guide. Credit: University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources

  1. Disaster Resource Center, American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

What it does well: Helps families navigate ways to help children in particular cope with natural disasters. Several fact sheets are available and could be printed for those who do not have access to the internet.

What it does not do well: It does not identify local resources for help. No Spanish translations are available.

  1. Cover of Surviving Wildfire

    The book Surviving Wildfire walks those with loss through insurance, finances and more.

    Surviving Wildfire (book available for purchase)

What it does well: Walks those with loss through insurance, finances and more. Nationwide applicability.

What it does not do well: It also contains Firewise-type information. Survivors in our area felt it was best if they knew that ahead of time and were told they should feel free to skip that part.

Our final words are from a Washington Fire Adapted Communities Learning Network member who was on the frontlines of the Carlton Complex wildfires and the community recovery afterward. She says that the Stockdale Paradox is imperative. You must be able to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they may be … while simultaneously never losing the faith that you will prevail in the end.

Prevail you will.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published on the Washington Fire Adapted Communities Learning Network blog.

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One thought on “6 Resources to Help Communities Recover After Wildfire”

  1. Mary Huffman says:

    Thanks, Annie, for the variety of resources and your evaluation of them. Disaster fires make so many painful paths through a community, in so many different ways. I especially appreciated knowing about the resource to help children and adolescents cope.

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