Past California wildfire victim gives advice on best way to help

Here's how you can help as the wildfires continue in Northern California.

A survivor of the 2015 Valley fire in California now has advice for those seeking to help current victims of the fires: Do something personal.

"The very best way, I believe, that you can help these families immediately right now," Johnson told ABC10, "is to pick a family and find out their sizes and pack a bag for them that’s got three outfits including shoes, toiletries, just the basic stuff that they need.

"They don’t need to be sorting through bags and bags of stuff," she added, "because it's really traumatic."

As more than 20 wildfires burned across Northern California this week, Johnson took to Facebook to share her first-hand thoughts on ways that people can help those who lost homes. Her post has now been shared over 200 times times.

"They have so much coming that they have no clue about and when I posted on Facebook, I just kind of wanted to give people an idea of what they’re in for," Johnson explained, "Because it's a really long, hard road and the only way we made it through was from our friends and family and perfect strangers that helped us through it all."

Johnson suggests people use social media to find a family or person who is in need of help.

"You can reach out and say, 'how can I help? Give me their sizes specifically,' she said. "If they have kids, buy them a book or a toy a teddy bear."

Johnson knows this from personal experience. After she lost her home, five of her friends sent bags of clothes and toiletries to her and her husband.

"Someone even included a bottle of my favorite perfume, for just a little sense of normalcy and that broke my heart," Johnson recalled.

Johnson also said her friends set up a GoFundMe page for her that was invaluable.

Her advice for those who lost those homes?

"Hold on to each other. And don’t have regrets for the things that you didn’t grab," she said. "When you’re fleeing for your life, you’re not thinking straight. I wasn’t able to grab anything from my home because I got cut...my cousin lost his home and he said it will haunt him for the rest of his life what he didn’t grab. So, just don't have regrets."

If you would like to help, GoFundMe has a page aggregating the fire related funds that are accepting donations here. You can message the creator of the fund (look for the mail icon next to the creator's name) to ask for more specific details on how to help that family or organization.

© 2017 KXTV-TV


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