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6 Resources to Help Communities Recover After a Wildfire

Author: 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.

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.

Resources to help you communicate with your community 

  1. After the Fire Toolkit

What it does well:  If post-fire flood 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 like your place.  We have made another one with different topography.

The AFTER THE FIRE Toolkit has been 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 PSA’s, door hangers, brochures, and social media templates. Credit: 

2.  Carlton Complex Natural Resources Guide:  Shows you how one natural resource agency helped landowners navigate assistance programs.

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

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

Resources to share directly with community members

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

What it does well:  Touch on everything.

What it does not do:  It is long.  A condensed version is available here.  Also, it is place specific and people may discard it because it is branded to New Mexico.

4.  California Forest Landowners Recovery Guide

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

What it does not do:  Delve into anything other than natural resources recovery (no debris removal or social services). Specific to California.  An alternative resource for the inland Northwest is available, but is longer and very detailed.

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

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

6.  Surviving Wildfire (Available for purchase.)

What it does well:  Walk those with loss through insurance and 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 front lines of the Carlton Complex fires and the community recovery.  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.