Donated RVs giving wildfire victims hope after losing everything – Riverside, California

Riverside, California 2021-09-23 01:50:48 –

Woody Faircloth’s mission to deliver donated RVs to wildfire victims began three years ago and is done on vacation.

Grabbing a bag full of duct tape and light meals, Woody Faircloth climbs in a full camper van with carpet and drapes. On his side, his nine-year-old daughter, Luna, quizzes a family who has just donated an RV, properly called a Residency. In the distance, on hills dotted with sage brushes, big waves are smoking from the second-largest wildfire in California’s history.

The father and daughter drive west for an hour to deliver a 35-foot (11-meter) RV to the new owner. Volunteer firefighters lost their homes in August when a Dixie fire flattened most of the historic downtown of Greenville, a small mountain in Northern California. A town dating back to the gold rush era.

This is the 95th vehicle that Faircross has delivered to wildfire victims. According to Faircross, the non-profit EmergencyRV.org is fully volunteered and run by donated RVs, bridging the gap between victims who often wait months for emergency housing.

“We are grassroots. We can move much faster than that. It’s the people who help people …. We can get there almost immediately,” he said.

And Faircross has a long list of people in need. Thousands of wildfires broke out in California and the western United States this year as historic droughts made it difficult to fight fire.

His mission began in 2018 Thanksgiving Week. I recently divorced and went home with Luna in Denver. At the age of six, Faircross saw news reports of a man fleeing on an RV, and a campfire, the country’s deadliest wildfire of the first century, burned a California home. Despite losing his home, the man was grateful to have an RV to call home for Thanksgiving. It hit the fair cross.

He had never been to a camper van before, but he turned to Luna and asked: What do you think about that? “

Her reply: “Oh, dad, God and Santa Claus will be proud of us.”

“It’s a bit of a deal,” Faircross said.

Within three days, Luna rode a shotgun and Faircross steered west from Denver with a $ 2,500 camper found on Craigslist. They celebrated Thanksgiving on the road, and the next day they almost destroyed the town of Paradise and delivered a car to the victims of a campfire that killed 85 people.

With the spread of travel social media posts, donors began offering RVs to Faircross. Some have offered to deliver the vehicle themselves, but Faircross makes many drops personally.

He tries to schedule trips over the weekend, but often immerses himself in vacation time from a full-time job at the telco Comcast. Faircross has traveled thousands of miles over the last three years, often with Luna by her side. Last year, COVID-19 precautions brought her to school in remote areas, so she joined him more often.

Those who are given RVs own them entirely, but Faircloth estimates that 5% to 10% will return RVs when they stand up so they can donate to other fire victims.

Faircross and Luna have spent three weeks on weekends over the past two months, driving 20 hours from Denver to the Northern California countryside. There, over 1,500 square miles (3,898 square kilometers) of Dixie Fire destroyed 1,329 homes, businesses and more. Buildings after mid-July. They delivered three RVs to the firefighters and one to the sheriff’s adjutant.

One of them was firefighter George Wally. He was fighting the Dixie fire on August 4, when a flame struck by strong winds and dry vegetation came down the hill and flattened most of the center of the Green Building, including Wally’s house.

“We fought the fire until we couldn’t fight anymore. We couldn’t stop it. We did our best,” he said.

Wally parks the RV near an air force base and helps load flame retardants into an aerial fire extinguisher to fight fire.

“Before I got that RV, I felt like I was putting a strain on everyone who helped me,” Wally said. “I slept a lot in my tent and car. It gave me a place to go.”

Faircross and Luna recently delivered the 95th camper to John Hunter. Hunter, the assistant chief of the Indian Valley Fire Department, has been fighting fire for 46 years. The same day Wally’s house burned and the flames destroyed Hunter’s house and Hunter Ace Hardware, the Greenville store that his family had run since 1929.

Hunter and his girlfriend Kimberly Price, 57, call the RV home when deciding whether to rebuild or start over elsewhere.

“It was really hard because our town was gone. This is known in John’s life,” Price wiped tears while watching a video of a family donating a camper.

According to Price, he plans to park near Greenville Middle and High School, one of the few remaining buildings in the center of town. That way, she can continue to visit the abandoned house every day to feed the cat that was left behind when the owner evacuated.

Faircloth said it’s difficult to balance work, family and nonprofits, but wants to expand volunteering. He envisions stage RVs in hurricanes and fire zones in the future to respond more quickly in the event of a disaster.

Currently, EmergencyRV.org has more than 100 families on the waiting list. He plans to drive to California in the next two weeks for the next delivery.

Donated RVs giving wildfire victims hope after losing everything Source link Donated RVs giving wildfire victims hope after losing everything

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