Recovery efforts beginning to take shape for fire victims

Andra Belknap, Ojai Valley News reporter
Although numbers for the Ojai Valley area are not yet available, fire officials say that as of Dec. 11 at 7 a.m., 644 single-family residences have been destroyed and another 167 damaged in the Thomas Fire. That number, said Unified Command public information officer Ian MacDonald, is likely to change.
“This in an historic fire that is visiting us in Ventura County and in the Ojai Valley,” said Ventura County Supervisor Steve Bennett during a community meeting at Nordhoff High School Dec. 9. “Up here in the Ojai Valley, we've had a lot of people burned out.”
Bennett encouraged Ojai Valley residents who have extra rooms to make them available to those who have been displaced.
“Many of us are blessed to have more housing that we need,” Bennett added. “If you're in that situation, now is the time for us to come together and say regardless of our differences here in the Ojai Valley, we are one valley and we take care of each other.”
Bennett added that he was particularly concerned for low- and moderate-income earners who have been displaced by fire, and urged residents to contact his office and the Ventura County District Attorney with any suspicions of price gouging on rental units.
Ojai Valley resident Zhena Muzyka is working to help residents in need connect with those wishing to help via a new group called Ojai Relief.
“We're trying just to help people in a really immediate way,” she said. “This is about making sure people have a place to sleep tonight.”

Register to read more ...