Presbyterian Disaster Assistance


Presbyterian Disaster Relief

Flames still burning out of control in northern part of the state  (by Rick Jones | Presbyterian News Service)

Northern California’s wine country has received the brunt of the massive wildfires that continue to burn out of control. More than 20 people are known to have died in the fires, while at least 285 remain missing. Authorities report 3,500 structures have been destroyed and over 170,000 acres burned.

“We have approximately seven congregations that are directly impacted by the fires. Of that number, we are aware of at least 50 homes that have been lost,” said the Rev. Dr. Robert Conover, stated clerk/executive presbyter of the Presbytery of the Redwoods in Napa. “In some cases, there are people who don’t know if their homes have been destroyed. They can’t get in to find out.”

Conover says Presbyterian Disaster Assistance has been good at reaching out. He and other local church leaders are trying to determine the best way to utilize PDA services. “Our need right now is for people to stay out of the way and let first responders do their work.” Once the fires are out, Conover says the big task will be finding long-term temporary housing for residents.

The losses not only impacted homes, but businesses as well. “The wine industry has been so impacted by these fires,” said Conover. “It employs over 100,000 people so we have a lot of individuals who not only lost their homes and businesses, but will be out of work.” Most of the affected areas are in Napa and Sonoma Counties and authorities say more than 8,000 firefighters are working to contain the blazes. The support from other churches and communities has been heartening and shows the connectional nature of the Presbyterian Church.

“PDA has reached out to see if our congregations need anything. They were ready and prepared and that was remarkable. PDA has reached out to all of the California presbyteries impacted by the recent series of wildfires. State officials say there are approximately 22 fires currently burning in the state. “What is most tragic is the loss of lives from the fires.

PDA stands ready to help the presbyteries and congregations of California respond and recover once the first responders have completed their work,” said Jim Kirk, PDA’s associate for national disaster response. “Please join us in prayer for those impacted, threatened and those working tirelessly to preserve life.”

Presbyterian Disaster Assistance is the emergency response and refugee program of the denomination, committed to the long-term journey of recovery of communities adversely affected by a crisis or catastrophic event. It is funded by the One Great Hour of Sharing and raises designated funds for responding to specific disasters.



Last Published: January 5, 2018 2:21 PM
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