Alameda County reactivates Disaster Relief Fund in response to COVID-19 pandemic

Josh Kahen/Staff

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At its March 31 meeting, the Alameda County Board of Supervisors reactivated the Disaster Relief Fund in response to the increasing needs of the county’s residents during the coronavirus pandemic.

According to an Alameda County press release, the Disaster Relief Fund was originally created in response to the Sep. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and has also been reactivated during other major disasters, such as Hurricane Katrina, the Ghost Ship warehouse fire and the 2018 California wildfires.

The Disaster Relief Fund consists of two separate funds: the COVID-19 Disaster Relief Emergency Fund and the Disaster Relief Recovery Fund. Teresa Drenick, a spokesperson for Alameda County and assistant district attorney of the Office of the Alameda County District Attorney, said the two funds were created because the community has a variety of needs.

“Since that time it has been reactivated on several occasions to address both local and international disasters, and national disasters,” Drenick said. “The county really wanted to step up as a show of support and help and resilience for others in a time of need.”

The emergency fund goes toward helping individuals affected by the pandemic and will provide relief for youth, families and seniors by supplying these groups with necessities including shelter, food, childcare, the continuation of benefits and personal protective equipment.

Drenick noted that the emergency fund also allows for employees of the county to donate time off work, which is then pooled together and can be used by other employees who need time off. The fund also supports community-based organizations that are helping those in need.

According to the press release, the recovery fund is accepting cash donations from individuals, businesses and philanthropic institutions for personal protective equipment and other supplies to help first responders, emergency workers, health care providers and others who are actively fighting the pandemic.

“The funds will support residents of our county and community-based organizations that are serving them,” Drenick said. “That’s going to be in the high-need areas, such as food, shelter, childcare and emergency needs.”

In addition to the Disaster Relief Fund, the county also established a website, through which personal protective gear including masks, surgical gowns, hand sanitizer and eye protection can be donated.

Drenick added that the fund will be active until it is no longer needed. In order to get donations for the recovery fund, Drenick said the county has been reaching out through social media and press releases.

“We are facing an uncertain future that will be challenging,” Drenick said. “People will be suffering and as a county, we need to do all we can to take care of our residents, especially those among us who are the most fragile, and we have to take care of our heroic emergency and health care workers.”

Contact Mela Seyoum at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @melaseyoum.