From Napa Valley Register: Community Foundation announces program to help quake victims

September 19, 2014  •  

The Napa Valley Community Foundation will be making $1.16 million in grants to community organizations so they can help earthquake victims who are in immediate need of assistance.

This is the first phase of a disaster relief effort launched by a $10 million gift from Napa Valley Vintners, to which 305 individuals and businesses have donated another $250,000, Terence Mulligan, the foundation’s president, said Friday morning.

The Community Foundation will be funneling $350,000 in direct aid to individuals through 19 community nonprofits. This money will be available for short-term rental assistance and essentials like food, utilities, car repairs and prescription medications, Mulligan said.

The organizations, including Aldea, the American Red Cross, Cope Family Center, Fair Housing Napa Valley and the Salvation Army, will divvy up $800,000 to cover their extra expenses in providing disaster assistance, he said.

Major Kevin Hanson of the Napa Salvation Army said his organization, which has been providing meals, shopping vouchers and funds to buy medications, badly needed the help.

“We’ve been using up our own operating funds to help people get through the earthquake. We’re running out of funds,” he said.

The Community Foundation is laying the groundwork for releasing $8 million or so in additional community aid, with the bulk of future funds to go to homeowners, renters and business owners who need help with recovery, Mulligan said.

Mulligan acknowledged that the need is greater than local resources can meet. According to the city of Napa, the Aug. 24 earthquake inflicted an estimate $300 million in damages locally.

The big uncertainty is whether the federal government, through the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Small Business Administration, will be helping with disaster assistance, Mulligan said.

On Sept. 11, President Obama designated the Napa quake a federal disaster, releasing federal funds to cover a portion of local government expenses. A second declaration bringing loans and grants to individuals and businesses is still being evaluated by FEMA.

“We have a $10 million answer to a $300 million question,” Mulligan said. “We’re hoping and praying support comes from the government for individuals and businesses.”

Five organizations will be taking applications for aid, but most won’t be able to begin scheduling appointments and processing requests until Oct. 1, Mulligan said. These nonprofits are: American Canyon Family Resource Center, Cope Family Center, On the Move (VOICES and McPherson Family Resource Center), Puertas Abiertas Community Resource Center and the Salvation Army.

More information on how to request an appointment will be forthcoming.

Because the quake hit such a broad spectrum of Napans, Mulligan said he expected that both low- and middle-income people will qualify for assistance. Help will be individualized, with agencies assessing the nature of the loss and the applicant’s financial resources, he said.

Because so many nonprofits have already been on the front lines, helping to provide disaster relief, Mulligan said Community Foundation funds will help pay for their increases operating costs.

Resources for more capital-intensive household needs, such as repairs, will be included in a second phase of grants from the Fund, and fall outside the scope of this initial effort, Mulligan said.

Ideally, the local effort will dovetail with FEMA and SBA disaster aid, but the Community Foundation and its local partners are prepared to go it alone, Mulligan said. “We’re not banking on that aid coming,” he said.

Finally, the Community Foundation will set aside about $250,000 for providing technical assistance to help local nonprofits prepare to handle future disasters, Mulligan said. 

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