Today I wanted to write not about photography, but about how amazing it is to see people come together in times of need. I live in southern California; about 20 miles of the Woolsey fire, and am part of the Los Angeles county ERT. The ERT is a group of specially trained volunteers that are activated to assist with the horses and livestock during devastating events, such as natural disasters such as wildfires, earthquakes, mudslides, as well as manmade disasters. This team not only is trained to assist with the evacuation but also with sheltering and aftercare, until the animals can return home.
When I arrived on-site Friday, horses were being brought in by the trailer-load, some were being driven by the drivers of the farm/ranch owners and others were being driven by Good Samaritans, people who are skilled in driving trailers, but are volunteering their services to help those who in need. The ERT has Level 3 members that assist directly with the evacuations, as well as teams of drivers that work with the county. Every man was on deck to help those people and animals in need; the goal is to evacuate everyone out to safety and then taking care of them during this distressing time in their lives.
As the animals would come in, they would be assigned a stall, and given the necessities of water and forage. Remember this is one of the scariest moments in their lives too, and we are there to make sure they know they are now safe. The volunteers and county staff were there to make sure these animals were cared for, and then their people could have one less thing to worry about. By taking care of their horses, sheep, goats, dogs, chickens, alpacas, donkeys, and even a pig, the victims of the fire could focus on other aspects of their lives. It will not be an easy road, as of today (a week later) this fire is still active burning just over 98,000 and only 57% contained, but a team of caring people come to the aid of those in need to help with one of the most valuable parts of those peoples lives.
These volunteers are a handful of people assisting in giving aid during this disaster, I want to thank everyone involved from the men and women on the front lines fighting this flame to the volunteers giving their time to the ones donating clothes, food, and funds to those who need it the most. This is what being human is about, putting our differences aside and helping those when they need it the most