October 24, 2016

Calaveras Post Butte Fire

This Director’s Blog includes information on: Disaster relief | Where to donate | How we can help ourselves | The CVB’s PR strategy during the crisis


Disaster help is here for businesses & individuals.

If you or your business need assistance with financial and/or property loss caused by the Butte Fire, Calaveras has a new FEMA State Disaster Recovery Center set up at the Calaveras County Government Center in San Andreas where you can get help registering with FEMA. Online FEMA registration | 1-800-621-3362

The center also houses the Disaster Assistance arm of the Small Business Administration (SBA) offering low-interest, federal disaster loans to businesses, private non-profits, homeowners and renters. These loans tend to come through fast, so if your insurance claim is taking a while, you might consider a short-term SBA loan. Download more information: Disaster loans fact sheet | How to apply | Free services

Another agency here to help is the State Supplemental Grant Program (SSGP) – this funding is designed to help augment FEMA grants – which may not cover everything. Funds granted are for “…serious and necessary expenses directly caused by the disaster” for a maximum award of $10,000. Download the SSGP Fact Sheet.

The Disaster Recovery Center, with representatives from all of these agencies and more, is located at the Calaveras County Government Center, 891 Mountain Ranch Road, San Andreas. It’s open seven days a week and hours of operation are:

Monday – Friday 8 am – 6:00 pm
Saturday 9 am –  4 pm
Sunday 12:00 pm – 4 pm


Want to help those who’ve lost everything?

Butte Fire BenefitOne of the wonderful things about this County has been the outpouring of support for those who’ve lost everything, and our generous tourism industry is really stepping up to do its part. We’re highlighting all of the Butte Fire fundraising events in our calendar with the graphic at left – so anytime you see it you’ll know there’s an opportunity to contribute.

Please take a look at our calendar of events and make sure your Butte Fire benefit event includes the logo. If we missed it, please email me at lisab@gocalaveras.com and we’ll get it updated ASAP.

If you’ve been confused about where to donate like many of the Calaveras fans who have called us, we’ve made it very simple. We have links and directions on how to donate to the Calaveras Community Foundation and The Resource Connection on our home page. We’ve also heard about a Butte Fire FREE Flea Market being planned – which sounds like a fantastic idea. More information is on this Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/ButteFireFREEFleaMarket.


How can we help ourselves?

The answer to this question is simple. We’ve all heard the term: “Shop Local” and now’s the time to take it very seriously. I am making a pledge here, that this holiday season, I will do all of my gift shopping here in Calaveras County (along with all of my usual shop-local habits like grocery shopping and gas purchases). Not only will I be supporting our local retail businesses, but I will also be generating local sales tax that goes straight into our county’s coffers to help pay for the services we need. I urge you to join me in making the pledge, and to further support our attractions, restaurants, events and fundraisers by attending, spending and gifting.

If we all make the effort to stay local in our spending, we can have a very positive impact on our local community when we most need it.


What has been the CVB’s strategy during the disaster?

Calaveras open for business after Butte Fire!

As the primary outlet for tourism marketing in the county, we were acutely aware of the need to help mitigate the financial losses suffered by our local businesses during evacuations, threat of fire and smoky conditions.

We teamed up with the Amador Council of Tourism to put out joint press releases, encouraging visitors to continue coming to the area. These were sent to our media contacts throughout the state and to the PR offices of the State tourism organization, Visit California.

However, once the full scope of the disaster began to emerge, we split our messaging from Amador (which was still open for business) and made the difficult but necessary decision to ask visitors to stay clear of the area while emergency vehicles were dominating the roadways and many of our towns were under evacuation orders.

We then focused on using social media to tell a story of courage, hope and gratitude. This strategy proved remarkably popular… we took the already positive messages being posted by Calaveras businesses and individuals (something I love about this community) and shared them on Twitter and with our 20,000+ Facebook fans. We gave updates on the progression of the fire, fielded questions about where to send donations, and shared stories of compassion and community spirit. The upshot was tremendously positive PR for Calaveras. In fact one of our posts on Facebook reached a record-breaking 50,000 people without being boosted.

Like many local businesses, we became a source of information from those wanting to know where to donate items, and started immediately to compile a Butte Fire resource list, which has been constantly updated with current information.

As the fire’s lifecycle progressed, we kept our Gold Country partners and Visit California contacts updated. As soon as it looked like we’d crested the peak and the smoke was no longer a problem, we sent out a press release letting people know it was safe to come back to play in Calaveras. That was the focus of the message sent out to our thousands of Visitor Newsletter subscribers last week, leading with this story: Calaveras Rising up from the Butte Fire.

Finally, on September 29th we went full-bore on getting out the message that Calaveras was back open for business. Visit California has promised to post in their social media outlets on our behalf, and our Capitol Public Radio Campaign for October is slated to start next week.

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  1. Thank you so much for providing updated information, not only to guest to the county, but also to residents as well! Those of us that live in this amazing community appreciate all that you and all of the countless volunteers, firefighters, law enforcement, State and Federal Agencies have done and will continue to do! Thank you!

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