Helping Others: California Provides Assistance To Disaster-Impacted Areas

As unprecedented disasters impacted various areas throughout the Gulf, Southeast, Puerto Rico and Mexico, Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr. authorized California to respond to numerous requests to assist with response and recovery efforts.

On September 19, a magnitude 7.1 earthquake struck Puebla in central Mexico at a depth of nearly 32 miles below the earth’s surface, according to USGS. The earthquake, which killed hundreds and caused considerable damage to infrastructure, followed a trio of devastating hurricanes.

Hurricane Harvey was a catastrophic flood disaster in southeast Texas. It made landfall on August 25, 2017, as a Category 4 hurricane with winds of 130 mph near Rockport, Texas. Category 5 Hurricane Irma pounded the South and is the strongest hurricane on record in the Atlantic Basin outside of the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico, per the National Hurricane Center.

Hurricane Maria, a Category 3 hurricane, inflicted major flooding in Puerto Rico.


How is California helping?

Hurricanes Irma/Maria (Puerto Rico): Cal OES coordinated the deployment of three Urban Search and Rescue (US&R) Task Forces – Los Angeles County Fire Department, Riverside Fire Department and Sacramento City Fire Department – including 27 personnel from each unit. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) deployed its 11-member US&R Incident Support Team. The California National Guard (CNG) C-130 aircraft was diverted to Puerto Rico for airlift support. The CNG also provided airlift flight controllers and 13 security personnel to San Juan Airport.


Hurricane Irma/Maria (Florida): California sent two A-Team members to assist the Florida EMAC staff with requesting and managing EMAC requests. One member each from Emergency Medical Services Authority (EMSA) and the CNG were deployed for 14 days. Two California Volunteers staff reported to the Florida State Emergency Operations Center to assist and supplement the coordination of volunteers and donations at local operation centers. At the request of FEMA, Cal OES coordinated the deployment of four US&R teams (Menlo Park Fire Protection District, San Diego City Fire Rescue Department, Los Angeles Fire Department and Oakland Fire Department) to aid in response of Hurricane Irma and three US&R teams (Los Angeles County Fire Department, Riverside Fire Department and Sacramento City Fire Department) to assist with Hurricane Maria.


Hurricane Harvey: The deployment of eight US&R teams from Los Angeles County Fire Department, Menlo Park Fire Protection District, Riverside Fire Department, Sacramento City Fire Department, Los Angeles City Fire Department, Oakland City Fire Department, San Diego City Fire Department and the Orange County Fire Authority came at the request of FEMA. Two additional Swiftwater/Flood Rescue Teams from the Ventura County and Long Beach City fire departments were deployed through the state-to-state Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC). The AmeriCorps Disaster Response Team is sending resources to Texas for recovery assistance, with six crews of Corps members (72 personnel total) along with 10 additional staff members deploying for 30 days.


Mexico Earthquake: The deployment of one 67-member US&R Task Force (Los Angeles County Fire Department) was coordinated through Cal OES and FEMA to assist with search and rescue efforts.


What to donate?

California Volunteers, which manages programs and initiatives aimed at increasing the number of Californians engaged in service and volunteering, suggests the most effective way to support disaster survivors in their recovery is to donate money and time to trusted, reputable, voluntary or charitable organizations. Instead of clothing and food, financial donations offer the most flexibility to address developing needs, as well as needs that arise over the coming months and years.


How to donate?

There are multiple ways to donate to disaster relief. Among them. the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters (VOAD) is an association of organizations that mitigate and alleviate the impact of disasters. Find direct links to donation sites below:

Hurricanes Irma/Maria (Puerto Rico)

United for Puerto Rico

National VOAD Members

Hurricane Irma/Maria (Florida)

National VOAD Members

Florida Disaster Fund:

Mexico Earthquake

American Red Cross: Mexican Relief Donations

Mexican Red Cross: Mexican Relief Donations

Hurricane Harvey

National VOAD Members

Texas Voad: Texas VOAD Website





Additional disaster-related resources:


Cal OES Urban Search and Rescue


Community Emergency Response

American Red Cross

Salvation Army



Jonathan Gudel

Jonathan Gudel is a Public Information Officer for the California Governor's Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES). Since joining Cal OES, he has assisted in the response and recovery efforts of the Aliso Canyon Gas Leak, the state's historic drought, the Oroville Dam Emergency Spillway Incident, unprecedented winter storms in 2017, the October (Sonoma County) and December (Santa Barbara County) 2017 wildfires, and statewide wildfire siege in 2018 . Previously, he worked in the newspaper industry for 12 years.

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