Donations pour in for San Bruno victims

More than $1 million in donations have flooded in to help the victims of the Sept. 9 gas pipeline explosion and fire in San Bruno.

The Silicon Valley Community Foundation has secured more than $420,000 in pledges to its San Bruno Fire Fund. A Red Cross spokeswoman said her agency has received around $750,000 so far in response to the disaster — which killed eight and destroyed around three dozen homes — with more still coming in.

Locally, the San Bruno Lions Club has received hundreds of mailed personal checks and donations at community fundraisers, said Ken Ibarra, the club’s secretary and a City Council member. Ibarra said they have raised about $50,000 so far, almost all from individuals, not counting $10,000 from other local Lions Clubs.

“It’s neat to see that there are such caring people out there that are willing to just write a check, and some of these checks are very generous,” Ibarra said.

Now, attention is turning to how the money will be spent. Red Cross spokeswoman Melanie Finke said the agency, which has interviewed and assisted more than 383 families at the scene, is currently working with the city to create a long-term plan for supporting victims. Services provided so far have included health and mental health consultations, meals and cleaning supplies.

“Many of the most essential, immediate needs have been met, but these people, as they’re working through their insurance, as they’re rebuilding, more things are going to come up,” Finke said.

Ibarra also said the victims’ needs, especially things not paid for by PG&E or insurance, will dictate how the Lions Club uses the money. He said they are asking for written requests, but haven’t received any yet.

“These families are starting all over, from clothes to posters and dishes and things. Who knows?” Ibarra said.

The Silicon Valley Community Foundation will likely give its money to nonprofits that are already working with victims, though they haven’t yet finalized the details, said Rebecca Salner, vice president of marketing and communications.

Officials say they will be on the lookout for fraudsters, as at least five people have been charged with impersonating victims. Finke said caseworkers confirm victim identities through PG&E and other sources.
“People know they can trust us to get the money to the people that need it,” Finke said.

sbishop@sfexaminer.com

Helping hands

As of Sept. 27, in San Bruno the Red Cross had:

  • Assisted 383 families
  • Provided 739 health services  consultations
  • Provided 986 disaster mental health consultations
  • Served 9,521 meals and snacks
  • Distributed 803 cleaning supplies
  • Deployed 171 volunteers and employees

Source: American Red Cross Bay Area Chapter

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