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Clean-up following Tick Fire inspires a unified command

Recovery underway in Santa Clarita

Mayor Marsha McLean | 11/8/2019, midnight

To say this has been a tough couple of weeks in our city is an understatement. After completing an initial assessment, nearly two dozen valley residents are dealing with the loss of their homes and all of their belongings, dozens more are facing substantial smoke and fire damage to their houses and tens of thousands have coped with evacuations due to the Tick Fire.

This fire forced the largest evacuation in our city’s history. More than 11,000 homes had to be evacuated, resulting in more than 40,000 residents forced to flee their homes as the fire swept through 4,000 plus acres fueled by the strong Santa Ana winds.

City staff was a part of the unified command, along with the Los Angeles County Fire Department, Sheriff’s Department and California Highway Patrol. The first priority whenever a fire breaks out, or our city faces emergency circumstances, is to ensure the safety of our residents. When our public safety partners call for evacuations, they do it for your safety. We appreciate all of you who heeded their warnings and left your homes so they could do their jobs.

Even with the incredible jobs of our first-responders, this fire moved so quickly that homes were lost. For our neighbors who were impacted by the Tick Fire, I urge you to take advantage of the resources and help available to you. The city, in cooperation with Los Angeles County, activated a Local Assistance Center (LAC) at The Centre in Santa Clarita.

The LAC has more than two dozen organizations represented, offering assistance on everything from replacing personal documents, getting insurance questions answered, finding out about tax relief support, getting crisis counseling services, obtaining ash/soot cleanup tips, getting info on debris removal, finding local licensed contractors and much more. LAC services are free to any member of the public—no identification or documentation is needed to access help. Bilingual support will be available on-site, as well as support for those who have disabilities, access or functional needs. You can also visit lacounty.gov/recovery for more recovery resources.

In addition to this official support being offered, the outpouring of community support has been awe-inspiring, as it truly defines the tight-knit Santa Clarita community. Social media pages are flooded with offers of food donations, clothing, places to stay, camps for kids during school closures and so much more. One of the images that best sums up the support among neighbors is of posters that have been placed on the front lawn of a home that was burned. The signs read, “You are not alone” and “We love you.” Neighbors supporting neighbors and a community rallying around those who lost everything exemplifies what our City stands for.

I want to remind all of you that fire season doesn’t end here in Southern California –and the Santa Ana winds will be back. Please review your family’s emergency preparedness plans and make sure your “Ready Set Go” evacuation plans are in place. For more information, please visit fire.lacounty.gov/rsg and find critical information on creating defensible space around your home, retrofitting your home with fire-resistant materials and how to prepare to safely evacuate well ahead of a wildfire.

I also want to say thank you to all of our first-responders who worked long days and nights to safeguard life and property. Thank you for protecting Santa Clarita.  And, thank you to the Red Cross and volunteers for providing help and services to those who needed to utilize the Evacuation Centers. When I visited last week, the families were very grateful. 

 Mayor Marsha McLean is a member of the Santa Clarita City Council and can be reached at mmclean@santa-clarita.com.