Spurred to act by the intense and widespread wildfires in the western United States, All Hands and Hearts began exploring ways to leverage our volunteer model and project management expertise to assist affected communities. Our Disaster Assessment Response Team (DART) conducted on-the-ground assessments of impacted areas and determined that a year-round program would be the most impactful course of action in California. We have partnered with CalOES (California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services) who have helped us to identify and connect with vulnerable communities in need of assistance. The town of Paradise sits at a unique cross-section of wildfire-related needs we identified as within our scope of work; rebuilding more resilient homes and mitigating the impact of future wildfires.
Due to the broad scope of work, we decided to launch a new kind of program. A core component of the pilot was our sawyer training program, which has helped increase the capacity of our organization by building a team of trained sawyers. This was All Hands and Hearts’ first program offering the opportunity for participants to be certified in chainsaw operations and our first program focused on increasing the resilience of a community to a disaster by completing mitigation activities. Because California is in fire season, we have suspended our chainsaw operations until January 2022. Our focus has shifted to rebuilding homes of those affected by the Camp Fire.
We want to give a special thanks to the Butte County Firesafe Council who have been our primary partner in mitigation over the last year.