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Fire Disasters—Faculty, campus communities hit hard by loss of homes, class cancellations, bad air quality

Devastating wildfires have affected large numbers of CSU faculty and students along with entire California communities.

Worst hit is CSU Chico where flames from the Camp Fire, deemed the deadliest in California history, came within a few miles of campus before changing direction.

The Chico campus is closed through November 16; classes are suspended through November 26. Learn more about the status in emergency campus updates and this emergency campus FAQ.

“We were a mile from the required evacuation zone and at that point the fire was zero percent contained,” says CFA Treasurer Susan Green, who teaches at CSU Chico and lives in town. “So, we boxed up the animals and fled. The hardest part was helping my elderly father who is in a wheelchair.”

Green notes that while the numbers are not yet known, faculty, staff and students at CSU Chico and nearby Butte Community College have lost their homes, and large numbers are displaced.

“While some are in shelters,” says Green, “thousands are scattered, even living in tents and vehicles, walking around dazed in the smoke, and feeling every emotion possible. Those of us inside are sleeping with our air masks on.”

Air quality, which can be monitored for all locations on the EPA website, remains unhealthful through a large swath of Northern and Southern California.

Sacramento State also has been due to poor air quality, and is scheduled to reopen Friday, Nov. 16. See Sacramento updates here.

San Francisco State, California Maritime Academy, CSU East Bay and Sonoma State remain open, with classes in session, but outdoor activities have been cancelled due to lingering bad air quality.

Particulate masks are available. Learn how to get them at SFSU here and at Cal Maritime here. At Sonoma, masks are available at the student center and at parking kiosks.

In Southern California, CSU Channel Islands is closed again after returning from an evacuation late last week due to the Woolsey Fire in L.A. and Ventura Counties. The evacuation rocked the campus a second time last week, coming just after a deadly shooting during “college night” at a nearby club frequented by Channel Islands students.

Although the fire did not reach campus, and the campus will reopen for employees tomorrow, Nov. 15, classes have been suspended until Nov. 26 out of concern for fire flare-ups and very poor air quality. See Channel Islands status updates here.

Other Southern California campuses are operating normally, despite moderate to poor air quality in some locations.

HOW FACULTY CAN GET HELP AND HELP OTHERS

Members of the California Faculty Association can seek disaster relief aid through our affiliated  unions, CTA and SEIU.

The Service Employees International Union’s California State Council has a fund to help families of members. At the SEIU California disaster relief web page, faculty can donate to the fund, and union members can apply for relief.

The California Teachers Association makes CTA Disaster Relief Grants to members, including CFA members, who suffer significant losses due to disasters in California. CFA Members can go to the link to complete the CTA Disaster Relief Grant application and, in Chico, CFA members can go to the CTA office at 1430 East Avenue, Suite #1 to apply and to learn about other sources of help.

The California Governor’s Office has created CaliforniaVolunteers.ca.gov and anyone can go there to learn how they can help.

The Airbnb Evacuee Program is helping evacuees find temporary housing.

At Chico State, the Wildcats Rise Fire Recovery Fund has been established.

The Butte County web site has an extensive list of help available, including a list of shelters and evacuation information, as well as instructions on searching for missing persons and pets, and many more vital details.

The Ventura County Fire Dept on Twitter has a lot of useful information, including this link.

Los Angeles County has posted this web site with extensive information on the status of evacuations, road closures, help with pets, and more.

PHOTO: A plane fights the Woolsey Fire near CSU Channel Islands.

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