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Mesquite Heat Fire Relief Updates

Updates are as of June 17, 2022

This page contains updates on the Mesquite Heat fire relief process, including total funds raised and granted, how funds are being used, and how victims can receive help.

Resources for People Needing Assistance

Anyone who has been directly impacted by the fire and needs assistance should contact the United Rescue Alliance, the agency designated to lead needs assessments for victims. June update from the URA:

"URA is working diligently to ensure that each request is reviewed to determine the best course of action to assist the family in their recovery process. In some cases, that may mean financial assistance or referrals to other agencies who have available resources.

  • If you wish to contact a member of the URA team, please email info@unitedrescuealliance.org or call 325-310-4883. If they are unavailable to take your call, please leave a voicemail with your name and information so they can return your call.
  • Please allow at least 3-4 business days for URA to review and process your inquiry."

Fund Purpose

The Community Foundation of Abilene’s Big Country Fire Relief Fund provides a secure way for people to donate to support victims and volunteer fire departments affected by the Mesquite Heat fire in May.

This fund was originally established when wildfires broke out in other parts of the Big Country in March and is now being used to collect and distribute funds in response to Mesquite Heat.

Total Funds and Grants

The fund has raised just over $487,500. The CFA has granted a total of $178,500 from the fund so far. $57.5k has been used for immediate relief needs serving Mesquite Heat (see more on these needs below), and $121k has gone to VFDs ($92.k to VFDs serving Mesquite Heat; $28.4k for VFDs serving March fires) to quickly help with equipment repair and maintenance so they could continue serving at full capacity. The remaining $306.9k will be granted out in the coming weeks for long-term recovery needs such as home rebuilding and repairs.

How Funds are Used

100% of donations to this fund will be used for local fire relief.

Grants from this fund only go to nonprofit organizations and volunteer fire departments. IRS rules restrict community foundations from making grants to individual people.

Grants support three primary purposes:

  • Immediate relief – These funds provide quick assistance after a disaster to help people with essential needs such as food, temporary shelter, and clothing. We typically grant these dollars to the nonprofit appointed to lead disaster response in the field (in this case, URA). Crews from the agency conduct assessments and quickly use funds to help people with urgent needs.

    An example of how the agency might provide immediate relief includes providing victims with gift cards to purchase groceries and vouchers for hotel stays.

    We deployed funds to URA within three days of the fires to quickly begin meeting essential needs for people who experienced loss.
  • Long-term recovery – These funds support the rebuilding and restoration projects that require more detailed assessments and time to complete. We typically grant these dollars to one or more nonprofit agencies working to assess victims’ needs and deploy funds according to the greatest unmet needs. The agency typically prioritizes helping people in the most vulnerable situations first, such as uninsured, low-income families.

    An example of how the agency might use funds for recovery includes paying companies and contractors to rebuild homes, repair plumbing, and restore electrical wiring.
  • Volunteer fire departments – These funds go to VFDs that responded to the fires and need funding for equipment repair and maintenance, operational support, and other unmet needs related to the disaster response.

Emergency Management and United Rescue Alliance Roles

The Big Country VOAD (Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster) is a group of local agencies who serve in various areas of disaster response. The VOAD meets frequently (typically at least once daily) in the days and weeks following a disaster to ensure resources are used as efficiently and effectively as possible to best meet urgent needs.

The VOAD designated the United Rescue Alliance to serve as the lead disaster response agency in the field following the Mesquite Heat fire. The URA conducts needs assessments for victims directly affected by the fire and determines how to best allocate the available funds.

The URA is an international disaster and crisis response organization headquartered in the Abilene, Texas region. Their team is trained to assess a community’s needs following a disaster and determine how to effectively and efficiently use funds to meet as many unmet needs as possible.

For more information on URA’s assessment process and/or how to contact them for assistance, contact the URA.

As a side note, URA suffered its own property damage and loss in the Mesquite Heat fire. They are headquartered on the historic Camp Barkeley training area where 500 acres burned, and they lost several buildings on the property.

Other Fire Relief Funds and Totals

March wildfires burned more than 50-thousand acres and destroyed more than 80 homes in other Big Country communities, including the Eastland County towns of Carbon, Groman, Rising Star and Eastland; and portions of Coleman and Brown counties were also affected. CFA has other fire relief funds serving these communities.

The total amount raise for all fire relief efforts from March through June 16 is $1.1 million. Around half of this has been granted out so far, and the remainder will be granted in the coming weeks and months for rebuilding and repair projects. The URA is leading disaster response for both the Eastland Complex fires and Mesquite Heat, and their crews are still conducting assessments in both regions to prioritize meeting needs for people in the most vulnerable situations first.

Thankful

We are indescribably grateful to everyone who has donated to support all of the communities affected by these devastating fires, and we are thankful for the volunteer firefighters who worked tirelessly to keep people safe.

We also want to thank URA’s crews for the countless hours of service they have contributed in order to provide organized relief to the communities that need it most.

Questions

If you have any questions related to CFA’s fire relief funds or other services, our team is happy to have a conversation. Please contact us any time at cfa@cfabilene.org or 325-676-3883.