Wildfire Highlights Community Needs: New Fire, Old Problems

An aerial shot of the wildfires in Sevier county taken from a Tennessee National Guard helicopter on Nov. 29, 2016. The fires burned hundreds of acres and destroyed several buildings in Gatlinburg. (Photo by Staff Sgt. William Jones)

An aerial shot of the wildfires in Sevier county taken from a Tennessee National Guard helicopter on Nov. 29, 2016. The fires burned hundreds of acres and destroyed several buildings in Gatlinburg. (Photo by Staff Sgt. William Jones)

May 15, 2017 • By Robert G. Ottenhoff        Center for Disaster Philanthropy

Gatlinburg, Tennessee has long served as the gateway to the Smoky Mountains National Park, the most visited national park in the United States. From its rustic beginnings, this little community has morphed into a booming, sprawling tourist destination, the third most important in the state’s economy.

On November 28, 2016 an unexceptional forest fire, fueled by 60 mile an hour winds, exploded into a wildfire that ultimately burned 17,000 acres, killed 14 people, and destroyed over two thousand homes and businesses.

Unlike other disasters, forest fires rarely leave unbroken swaths of destruction but hop and skip in unpredictable patterns. This fire caused unusual damage to a neighborhood with multiple-unit complexes housing nearly 75 percent of the tourist industry’s low wage workers and their families, many of them undocumented immigrants.

Another truism of disasters: They also reveal the most vulnerable in our communities—unseen right before our eyes.

In this case, the essential workers necessary for the tourism industry to function were hit hard. So after years of ignoring the problem of a lack of affordable housing, it was a forest fire that made it impossible to ignore the issue any longer.

I traveled to Gatlinburg with my colleagues Regine Webster and Nancy Beers to learn about a recovery effort that has had many remarkable successes and meet with two community leaders, Alexandria Brownfield, CEO of Volunteer East Tennessee, and Bruce Bailey, Executive Director of AmeriCorps St. Louis (and a recent recipient of a Midwestern Early Recovery Fund grant).

Lessons Learned: 

1.   All disasters are local and ultimately resolved locally. 

Gatlinburg received plenty of outside help from organizations such as FEMA, the state, and many national nonprofit organizations. But it was local organizations, local government and local philanthropies, working with local people that ultimately made the difference and will do the heavy lifting over the long haul.

2.   Strong pre-existing social capital is vital. 

Although there was little disaster organization in place before the disaster – a blank slate, one person remarked – the community coalesced quickly around this disaster. Relationships among the major partners after the disaster were seamless because the relationships had been created well before the disaster struck.

3.  Collaboration among funders is essential. 

Trudy Hughes, Director of Regional Advancement for the East Tennessee Foundation, told us that within a few weeks the local funding community started meeting. They shared needs assessments, met with local leaders and volunteers, and ultimately shared funding strategies, promoting four different funds. Major funding came from the Dollywood Foundation, the private foundation of local legend Dolly Parton, contributing $9 million for individual needs. The foundation community also raised approximately $4 million, much of which was also distributed to individuals.

4.  Please send cash. 

The community received well over a million pounds of donated clothing, as well as donated products. Much of it now sadly sits in a warehouse, unusable for local needs. As in many disasters, donated products turned out to be a distraction and generally not helpful in meeting the needs of fire survivors.

5.  Volunteers can do tremendous things – if they know what to do. 

Within a week after the fire, a centralized volunteer recovery center had been created and soon there was a Mountain Tough Recovery Team website, well-organized assignments, and a response committee. One other critical factor is that the volunteer leaders worked closely with the county’s disaster manager, John Mathews, who was managing the local government response.

6.  Don’t wait to set up an unmet needs committee. 

The volunteer leaders started an unmet needs committee within weeks of the fire, relying on teams of volunteers and creative technology to gather information. As one person told me, “we became the early radar on just about everything.” Adding to its impact, it became the sole portal the entire community relied on for information.

7. Coordinate the work of outside volunteers. 

With its strong start and excellent organization, the volunteer team also took on the assignment of coordinating the work of eager, but uninformed, outside volunteer organizations. As one leader told me, “we had rules about how to operate in our county on this disaster.”

Six months after the fire, reconstruction is evident everywhere.

Private homes, where owners had insurance, are being rebuilt.

Faith-based organizations such as the Appalachia Service Project have pledged to build 25 homes. The new Mountain Tough Recovery Team was launched with a mandate to rebuild homes and create rental units for service workers.

Today there is a sense of optimism in Gatlinburg. Devastated by a surprising and shocking forest fire, it is well on the way to solving some long neglected problems and building back better, bringing new economic vitality to the region.





Temporary BAN for Yulin Dog Meat Festival !!!!

During the Dog Meat Festival that’s been held each year since 2010 in Yulin, China, thousands of dogs – some of them stolen pets – are brutally beaten to death and then sold for their meat.

For years, activists have worked hard to put an end to this terrible event, and finally their efforts are apparently paying off. Yulin will reportedly ban the sale of dog meat during this year’s festival, scheduled to begin June 21.

Humane Society International (HSI) announced the potentially wonderful news today that the Yulin government will prohibit restaurants, street vendors and market traders from selling dog meat at the event. Anyone caught doing so will be fined up to 100,000 yuan (about $14,512) and face a jail sentence.

News of the ban was received by HSI and the nonprofit Duo Duo Project from Chinese animal welfare activists. It was confirmed by three traders at Yulin’s largest dog meat market.

The temporary ban, which will go into effect June 15, is believed to have been initiated by Mo Gong Ming, Yulin’s new party secretary, according to HSI.

Although the ban will only last for the duration of the festival, HSI said it is “a milestone victory in the ongoing campaign to end mass dog and cat slaughter at Yulin, and is evidence of growing political will from inside China to clamp down on the trade.”

Along with HSI, Andrea Gung, executive director of the Duo Duo Project, a group that advocates for ending the killing of dogs and cats for delicacy food in China, is cautiously optimistic. “Even if this is a temporary ban, we hope this will have a domino effect, leading to the collapse of the dog meat trade,” she stated. During several visits to Yulin over the past two years, Gung said she has witnessed changes for the better. She’s impressed with the compassion of the younger generation in Yulin and in China, and congratulated Mo Gong Ming for his “progressive and visionary leadership.”

Each year in Asia, 30 million dogs are killed for their meat, including 10 to 20 million in China. Last month, Taiwan made history by becoming the only country in Asia to ban the consumption of dog and cat meat. It had previously prohibited the slaughter of these animals and sale of their meat.

Could China be next? The majority of Chinese – about 64 percent – want to ban the Yulin dog meat festival, according to a 2016 poll. About 52 percent want to end the dog meat trade. Most of those opposing it are young people.


Last June, a Care2 petition with 11 million signatures that called for an end to the Yulin dog meat festival was delivered to the Chinese embassy in London. The late, great Carrie Fisher gathered with campaigners outside the embassy to send the petition on its way.

The global efforts of Care2 members are obviously helping to make a difference. The next step is to make the dog and cat meat ban permanent in Yulin and throughout China. Please join more than 1.2 million Care2 members by signing and sharing this petition by Lisa Vanderpump to stop the cruel Yulin Dog Meat Festival.




thank you!




6 Amazing Animal Rescue Organizations


6 Amazing Animal Rescue Organizations

When natural disasters like floodsfire, tornadoes, and earthquakes strike, evacuation happens at a moment’s notice, often leaving people little to no time to prepare. In the midst of terrifying chaos, pets can be separated from their families, left behind or forgotten, leaving them to fend for themselves.  But it’s not only companion animals that need rescue. Wild animals and farm animals are also affected by disaster, causing them to require medical care and help until they can be relocated or returned to their natural habitat.

Fortunately, in the darkness and devastating aftermath you’ll find a shining light in the form of caring people dedicated to lending a helping hand. When disasters take a toll on communities, organizations of all sizes join forces to help animals in need. Whether they focus on companion animals, wildlife, or both, their devoted disaster relief teams share one common goal: Saving lives.  Here are some of the larger organizations around the world working to help save animals in disaster situations.


aspca rescue.jpg

We’ve all seen the heart-wrenching commercials. The ASPCA has been one of the leaders in animal cruelty investigations, with a large Field Investigations and Response team of experts, staff and volunteers ready to rescue animals in need. But they also has a disaster response team ready to provide boots-on-the-ground assistance to communities and organizations in the wake of a natural disaster. If you’re interested in learning more about being an animal rescue volunteer for the ASPCA, check out their requirements online.

2. The Global Alliance for Animals and People


The Global Alliance for Animals and People/Facebook

With an overall mission to “improve the quality of life of underprivileged animals and people,” this organization’s disaster relief division was developed after recognizing a dire need for organized rescue efforts in Latin America. Through a partnership with the International Fund for Animal Welfare, they provide medical care and temporary shelter for displaced animals, with an end goal of reuniting them with their families. They also work with local government agencies to develop disaster preparedness plans for people with animals. Visit their website to learn more about their inspiring mission and rescue efforts.

3. The Humane Society of the United States


The Humane Society of the United States/Facebook

The Humane Society of the United States’ rescue and legislative efforts aim to help animals of all species. With an army of staff and volunteers on hand, their Disaster Relief teams are ready to hit the ground running to assist in natural disaster situations.  These dedicated teams are equipped to handle large-scale situations, providing rescue assistance, veterinary care and temporary shelter for animals. Want to join their team? Check out their animal rescue volunteer training opportunities. They also have handy resources to help you plan ahead for a natural disaster and keep your pets safe.

4. Humane Society International

Humane Society International/Facebook

Humane Society International’s rescue efforts span across the globe. Donations to their International Disaster Relief Fund are used to fund relief projects, including providing veterinary care and temporary shelter for animals displaced by natural disaster. They also work to help pet guardians prepare for natural disasters and evacuation, provide assistance to area shelters and assist government agencies in preparing for natural disasters. You can read more about their program and check out photos of their amazing rescue efforts by visiting their Disaster Services web page.

5. International Fund for Animal Welfare

International Fund for Animal Welfare/Facebook

The International Fund for Animal Welfare was founded to protect animals and provide funding to assist the relief efforts of other organizations. Their incredible emergency response teams respond to natural disasters, human-caused catastrophes and cruelty cases all over the world. Their efforts aim to help both companion animals and wildlife get the care they need so they can be returned to their homes or natural habitats. Through their Emergency Relief Networks, they’ve established global partnerships to ensure no animals are left behind. Learn more about how you can get involved with this great organization and help them save animals.

6. World Animal Protection

World Animal Protection/Facebook

For 50 years, World Animal Protection has been working to help communities around the world. When disasters happen, their vast network of staff and volunteers across the globe provide on-site support to communities in need. Working with local agencies, they provide veterinary care, food and shelter for animals until they can be reunited with their guardians. Because of their dedicated network of teams, over 4 million animals have been saved. Check out their website to read more about their impressive history and efforts to aid disaster-prone communities.

How You Can Help

  • Be prepared. Make sure your family has a disaster plan in place that includes pets.
  • Donate. Consider donating to rescue organizations so they can continue their rescue efforts. If you can’t donate, volunteer!

Posted by One Green Planet



Pet Friendly Hotel Links




Links to Pet Freindly Accomodations: (United States and Canada) (United States and Canada)

Pet Friendly Hotels (United States) (United States) (International) (International) (Canada)

Bring Fido: (International)


        Pets Welcome: pets ok hotel database:




Sponsored by Grief Directory



Animal Advocacy Organizations



Service Animal preparation( Disability Ready)


American Veterinary Medical Association: *includes info for large animals


Kansas State Animal Response Team


Links for Service Dogs




Los Angeles Links

Los Angeles Emergency Text & Email Notification sign up:



Register Or Log-In Here!


This page may be used to register your cell phone number and e-mail address with the Alert LA County Emergency Mass Notification System.

Listed and unlisted land line telephone numbers are already included in the database and do not need to be registered.

Los Angeles County has implemented an emergency mass notification system that will be used to contact County residents and businesses via recorded phone messages, text messages or e-mail messages in case of emergency.  The system, called Alert LA County, will be used by the County’s Emergency Operations Center to notify residents and businesses of emergencies or critical situations and provide information regarding necessary actions, such as evacuations.  The system utilizes the telephone companies’ 911 database and is able to contact land-line telephone numbers, whether listed or unlisted.  If the call is picked up by an answering machine, the system will leave a recorded message.  If the number called is busy or does not answer, the system will redial the number in an attempt to deliver the message.  The system is also TTY/TDD compatible.

Because the Alert LA County system uses the 911 database, land-line numbers are automatically included in the system.


Pet Preparedness for Emergencies

Have a rescue alert sticker (click here : ) visible in one of your home’s windows that lists the number and species of animals residing in your home. If you evacuate with your animals during an emergency, and time allows, write “Evacuated” across the alert sticker.

Make sure your pets are microchipped and have proper identification. This is the single most important step you can take to ensure that you and your companion animals will be reunited if you are separated.

Don’t forget to include alternate contacts with the microchip registration, such as your cell phone number and phone numbers for an out-of-area relative so that you can still be contacted in the case of an evacuation.


Horse and Large Animal Preparedness for Emergencies

1. Make sure your horse is identifiable with a bracelet and microchip. Despite your best efforts, your horse may run off or be separated from you. An ID bracelet can be purchased online or you can make your own with your contact information. Place the bracelet round the horse’s back foot. A microchip can be scanned and easily locate you through a database. The odds will be much better for reuniting you and your horse!

2. Plan for an evacuation. Train your horse to load into a trailer. 

3. Identify alternate ways that you can trailer and/or walk your horse(s) to nearby stables or other designated safety zones.

4. Pre-arrange for boarding at stables outside the City of Los Angeles, if possible. LA Animal Services can only provide evacuation sheltering for equines at Los Angeles Fire Department identified mandatory evacuation areas. You, as the animal owner, are responsible to plan ahead and find alternative stables that can accept your animal in case of evacuation orders.

5. Have a surplus of feed available. Don’t let yourself get down to the last bale when disaster strikes.

6. Have an emergency three day supply of water available (use drums or barrels).

7. Keep a leather halter near the corral that’s easy to find for emergency responders in case you are not able to evacuate your horses yourself.  A nylon halter is not recommended because it can cause serious burns.

8. Never turn your horse or livestock loose during a wildfire. You do not know how they will react and they could be dangerous to you or others. If you have to evacuate without your animals, keep them in a safe fenced paddock until the threat passes or emergency help arrives.

  Los Angeles Animal Services:






State Links

State of California Links

State of California

Governors Office of Emergency Services


California Department of Forestry & Fire Protection

California Department Of Forestry & Fire Protection




CA State Office Of Emergency Services: Youtube channel: 

California Department Of Health












Securing Your House During an Emergency


It can take first responders up to 72 hours to reach people in noncritical situations following a disaster.

Here are some practical tips to help you prepare for the unexpected:

Sometimes an emergency can meaning having to stay home for a few days- this is one of the easiest types of emergencies to prepare for.

By taking a few basic steps and a few minutes of maintenance twice a year, you can make what could be misery into a tolerable wait.

  • Plan and practice a home emergency/ evacuation plan with your family.
  • Include a list of where emergency supplies and equipment are stored.
  • Identify an emergency out-of-town contact.  
  • Talk to your children about what to do if they’re away from home during an emergency.
  • Know the emergency policies at your children’s school or daycare.
  • Consider specific precautions for anyone in your household with special needs. 
  • Make necessary arrangements for your pets as they may be prohibited in hotels and public shelters. 
  • Store important documents such as birth certificates, passports, wills, financial documents and insurance policies in a location outside your home such as a bank or credit union safety deposit box. 
  • Consider opting in to receive special “emergency Twitter alerts” from law enforcement and public safety organizations and/or emergency management agencies. Issued during a crisis or emergency, the tweets contain updated information such as public safety warnings and evacuation




• Make a list of your possessions in case you have to make an insurance claim. The inventory form should include the name of your insurer and local insurance representative, your insurance policy number, coverage, deductible and expiration date. Consider keeping a copy of your policy with the inventory.

• Break down the replacement cost of possessions by room to help determine if you have adequate coverage. Remember it’s not what you paid for something, but what it would cost to replace it. Keep this information up to date to reflect any recent purchases.

• Keep videos and photos of furniture and other contents of each room of your home. • Store your inventory list, along with accompanying videos and photos, in a location outside your home such as a bank or credit union safety deposit box.


None of this sounds fun or exciting, until the shit hits the fan.

You are smart enough to know that it is a when more than and if for something big to go wrong.

Behave as smart as you are: do this basic preparation and hope you never need to use it. 



National Links

Federal Emergency Management Association


Download the following PDF

Animal Plan: Lizards, Snakes, Birds, Pocket Pets (Gerbils, Hamsters) 



Call 911 if you are in immediate danger and need emergency help.






American Humane Association works in association with American first responders, emergency managers, civic leaders, animal protection advocates, healthcare providers and families to prepare for and cope with disasters and crises. 

Red Star® Rescue


In 1916, American Humane Association accepted an invitation from the War Department to help animals used by the U.S. Army during WWI. With the acceptance of that invitation, the American Red Star® Animal Relief Program was born.

Today, the Red Star rescue team responds to natural and/or man-made disasters, including animal cruelty, to assist animals and communities in crisis.

The team consists of a national network of professionally trained staff and volunteers. An 82-foot mobile command center — fully equipped for both animal rescue and veterinary services — is the centerpiece of a fleet of boats and vehicles ready to deploy anywhere in the country on a moment's notice.



American Humane Association has teamed up with The Weather Channel and mobiPET to offer a free photo amber alert for missing pets. Just click on and read about this new pet rescue service. If you choose one of the two premium service offerings, 10% of the revenue will go to American Humane Association. If you have not registered and your pet goes missing, choose the Lost a Pet offering, 40% of the revenue will go to American Humane Association. Just enter the code "AHA" in the “referred by” box.

mobiPET has also joined with American Humane Association in supporting their Red Star® Rescue program to help save pets and reunite them with their owners following disasters.


If you think your pet may have ingested a potentially poisonous substance, call (888) 426-4435. A $65 fee will be charged to your credit card.

ASPCA poison info : the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) is your best resource for any animal poison-related emergency, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

The Top 10 Most Common DOG Poisons:

  1. Chocolate
  2. Insect bait stations
  3. Rodenticides (mouse and rat poison)
  4. Fertilizers
  5. Xylitol-containing products such as sugar-free gums and candies
  6. Ibuprofen (Advil® or Motrin® in brand name or generic form)
  7. Acetaminophen (Tylenol® in brand name or generic form)
  8. Silica gel packs
  9. Amphetamines, such as ADD/ADHD drugs
  10. Household cleaners

The Top 10 Most Common CAT Poisons:

  1. Lilies
  2. Canine permethrin insecticides (topical flea and tick medicine for dogs)
  3. Household cleaners
  4. Rodenticides (mouse and rat poison)
  5. Paints and varnishes
  6. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory veterinary medications such as meloxicam, Rimadyl®, and Deramaxx®
  7. Glow sticks/glow jewelry
  8. Amphetamines, such as ADD/ADHD drugs
  9. Acetaminophen (Tylenol® in brand name or generic form) 
  10. Ibuprofen (Advil® or Motrin® in brand name or generic form)



Access to Disaster Help & Resources: is the official website devoted to helping disaster survivors. It’s a portal to help survivors locate more than 70 forms of assistance across 17 federal agencies via the internet using their desktop computer, tablet or mobile device. Using prescreening technology, offers an anonymous questionnaire that generates a personalized list of assistance a survivor can apply for based on the answers. The site also provides other disaster-related information and resources to help before, during and after a disaster. continues to provide avenue for assistance following severe flooding in Lousiana and Texas

During the first weeks of August 2016, areas in Texas and southern Louisiana saw extremely devastating flooding. Shortly after the flooding, the President declared the area a major disaster and opened it for Federal individual assistance. emerged as the leading avenue for people to apply for disaster assistance with 67% of all registrations coming in through the online portal. The registration period ends October 13, 2016, so registrations are still coming in at the time of publication. Between August 11 (when the flooding began) and August 31, 2016 there has been 1,099,335 unique and returning visitors to the website, a large surge in activity. In addition, nearly 70% of all site traffic came from mobile devices. The increase in web applications is making a significant impact to the easing the call volume on the FEMA call centerand surge capacity by allowing disaster survivors to self-serve on the web portal. 

The areas devastated are still very much still in clean up and rebuild mode. There are a number of resources still available to disaster survivors and their families on as well as and Survivors can also reach FEMA via:

  1. Call 800-621-3362 (711 or Video Relay Service). If you use TTY, call 800-462-7585.
  2. Visit a Disaster Recovery Center.

(Photo Credit: FEMA Photo Library)

    DARE (Disaster Assistance Reengineering Effort) Update


    The Disaster Assistance Reengineering Effort (DARE) is a multi-year modernization initiative to create a more survivor-centric portal for disaster assistance. 


    As development work continues building prototypes, the DAIP-DARE team anticipates quarterly releases. We will hold Integrated Project Team (IPT) meetings during various stages of progress to allow stakeholders the opportunity to review and discuss. Subject matter experts will also be invited to join, as needed, to assist in developing requirements. And we highly encourage ideas and suggestions!


    Project Update: The focus of Release 1 was building, in a simulated environment, a new survivor dashboard for Applicant Inquiry (which is a survivor account). Release 2 continued to build onto that foundation. 


    Now we have the ability to pull in data from test cases and view the following:


    • Status of FEMA applications
    • Assistance types
    • Pending actions We can also view account details including:  


    • Mailing address
    • Phone numbers 
    • Email address
    • Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) information
    • Insurance information
    • Correspondence preferences

     We anticipate rolling out Release 3 at the end of November. The new dashboard functionality we are working on for this release includes: 


    • The ability to update information.
    • The ability to view documents sent by FEMA.
    • The ability to upload documents. Unfortunately the disaster in Louisiana required all hands on deck, so we were unable to hold our IPT meeting for Release 2. We will try to reschedule once disaster support activity slows down. 

    Moving Ahead: During the disaster activity in Louisiana, problems were identified in the current registration intake and account management systems. In response to this, DAIP is putting a stronger focus on making changes to the current system, to help improve the disaster survivor experience in the shortest amount of time. IPTs will still be an important part of this effort.  All work completed for DARE to date is being reviewed to determine the feasibility of bringing some features into our current system.


    FEMA Hosts Inaugural Surge Summit


    On July 27, 2016 in Washington, DC, FEMA hosted its inaugural Surge Summit, a conference centered around providing extra support after a disaster.


    FEMA is constantly reviewing its processes, plans, and partnerships, which helps it to maintain readiness and improve upon its response and recovery efforts.  For the majority of disaster declarations, FEMA is adequately staffed to support them. But it must also be prepared for the next “big one,” yet still be a good steward of the taxpayer dollar.  One way FEMA can do this is through surge planning and readiness.  (Photo Credit: FEMA Photo Library)


    The first and sometimes only contact survivors have with FEMA is when they apply for assistance through FEMA’s Contact Center. During a catastrophic disaster, incoming call volume can quickly exceed the capabilities of the contact center.  When this occurs, the contact center surges and brings on additional staff to help support the load.  


    FEMA launched the Surge Summit to support the goal of continuous improvement.  Approximately 30 leaders from various parts of FEMA attended, many of whom met for the first time. The summit allowed attendees to focus and gain a better understanding of three main points: 


    • What the current contact center surge strategy is, 
    • What the challenges are, and 
    • How we can best move forward collaboratively.   

    As the summit expands in the future, FEMA will reach out to its external partners to encourage their support and invite them to join in. This will make FEMA even better prepared to support survivors as our partnerships grow. (Photo Credit: FEMA Surge Summit. From left: Monty LeMaire, Candita Sabavala, Jose Ramos-Fantauzzi, Dinora Reyes, and Melissa Stone)

  Site Metrics October 1, 2015-August 31, 2016

    Department of Agriculture | Department of Commerce | Department of Defense
    Department of Education | Department of Health and Human Services
    Department of Homeland Security/Federal Emergency Management Agency
    Department of Housing and Urban Development | Department of the Interior
    Department of Justice | Department of Labor | Department of State
    Department of Transportation | Department of the Treasury
    Department of Veteran Affairs | Office of Personnel Management
    Small Business Administration | Social Security Administration