2017 Napa Complex Fires: Cope’s Role in Response, Relief and Recovery

After the 2014 earthquake, Cope Family Center was identified as a key partner to provide emergency support during a disaster. When disaster struck our community last month, Cope Family Center once again served (and continues to serve) a critical role in assisting the community in disaster response, relief and recovery. On October 9th, Cope immediately re-allocated staff and volunteer resources to meet the needs of the community and continues to re-assess priorities and direct resources where needed.

Our activities have been applied to three main categories:

Community Collaboration
Cope is working in partnership with other nonprofit organizations and government agencies to ensure that emergency needs are met through services, resources and emergency aid.  We also work together to identify and report emerging needs to inform decision making around resource allocation and funding needs.

Direct Service
As a trusted community organization that helps families manage crisis and trauma day to day, Cope’s expertise was invaluable in supporting families during this difficult time. Staff is trained in trauma-informed case management and is skilled in establishing trust with clients, many of who are underserved and disenfranchised. The staff’s compassion and professionalism put children and parents at ease and helped them access essential emergency aid services and other critical support.

The demonstrated professionalism and ability of Cope’s administrative staff ensures ethical and legal compliance as well as efficient and effective operations. Staff is trained on transparency and accountability to donors, the IRS, vendors and clients. Our thorough understanding of nonprofit regulations and best practices has ensured that effective procedures have been established and followed; integrity of data has been maintained; philanthropic funds have been distributed in accordance with the donor’s intentions; and most importantly, the needs of the clients are prioritized and they feel supported and valued during a disaster.

October 9-15

The morning of October 9th, Cope immediately reallocated staff and volunteers to support the community during the disaster. Much of the work the first week depended on communication: with government agencies, partner organizations, clients, donors and the wider community. It is worth noting that this was especially challenging as many were without phone or internet.

Services Offered

  • Family Support Providers contacted all current clients immediately and provided crisis intervention and emergency assistance, including gift cards, as needed
  • At Cope’s Family Resource Center (FRC) and the Napa Valley College (NVC) evacuation center, staff provided crisis intervention and emergency assistance, including gift cards, to the community. At the NVC, gift card distribution was done in coordination with CNVL
  • At both the FRC and NVC, staff made referrals as needed for additional benefits like food, clothing, mental health and government subsidies
  • Cope staff launched and managed the children’s play area at the NV College evacuation center. Under our leadership, over 600 volunteer hours complemented our staff’s work to make sure children had a comfortable and safe space for interactive playtime, reading, arts and crafts, fun and laughter despite the instability and uncertainty around them.  Parents also received referrals to community partners and government resources. Our trauma informed staff referred parents and children to Napa County Mental Health staff to manage more intense needs
  • Offered internet access, charging stations and phone access to anyone in need during the days immediately following the disaster when many were without power and phone/internet service
  • Offered families access to children’s play room and family quiet room for anyone seeking an indoor space to play with their children, away from the smoke
  • Distributed over 150 free N95 masks
  • Collected and distributed information regarding disaster status and available resources. By providing reliable information during a time of crisis, many utilized Cope as a vital resource of information and updates
  • Under the leadership of On the Move and other partners, Cope staff provided 24/7 on call assistance for Spanish translation for emergency NIXLE alerts

Response Phase


by the Numbers

Children served at Napa Valley College Shelter: 600

Staff hours for disaster response: 580

Volunteer hours: 600

October 16-26

On October 16th, our direct service focus shifted from supporting families at the NVC evacuation center to working on-site at the Local Assistance Center, providing assessments for emergency aid, case management and referrals to community and government resources for additional help. In addition, significant efforts were focused on planning for the next step of distributing Napa Valley Community Foundation’s (NVCF) Emergency Financial Assistance (EFA) grants.

 Services Offered

  • Under the leadership of NEWS, Cope staff and On the Move staff provided case management and emergency aid assessment at the Local Assistance Center.  During that time, we collectively served over 1,500 residents impacted by the fires.
    o   90% were low-income
    o   40 families reported losing their homes to the fire
    o   $60K was distributed in emergency aid gift cards
    o   All clients were provided with emergency aid gift cards and referrals to other
         programs (Red Cross, FEMA, Disaster CalFresh)
    o   All clients were assessed for eligibility for the NVCF’s Emergency Financial         
         Assistance Grants
  • Cope staff maintained emergency aid services at our downtown Family Resource Center as well to serve existing clients with emergency aid distribution and crisis intervention counseling.

Relief Phase by the Numbers

Children and Families served at LAC by Cope Staff:
380 households

Staff hours for disaster relief:  810 hours

Gift cards distributed by Cope:  $20,000

On October 27th, we started transitioning from providing aid assessment and gift card distribution at the Local Assistance Center to processing and distributing NVCF EFA grants at the Cope offices.

Services Provided

  •  Process and distribute EFA grants to low income residents impacted by the fires,  including:
    o   Meeting with client for initial needs assessment (if not already completed at the LAC)
    o   Scheduling client for verification appointment
    o   Greeting client at their appointment and reviewing documents
    o   Meeting with client to review application, approve EFA payments, collect payee
         information,  and problem-solve (i.e., due to housing issue, immigration concerns, etc.)
         as well as refer for additional support as needed
    o   Process EFA payments (up to 3 checks per client), including data entry, cutting checks,
         recording payee information, scanning paperwork for records
    o   Mail check or file for client pick up within three working days
  • Collect and analyze emerging needs data; report to EFA committee to help shape long term recovery plans
  • Assist clients in our FRC emergency aid (gift cards, diapers, formula) and referrals (legal aid, mental health, fair housing)

Recovery Phase by the Numbers*

Families served: over 600

Gift cards distributed: $10,000

EFA grants distributed: over $700,000

Staff hours for disaster recovery: almost 2,000

Volunteer hours: 53 volunteers donating over 600 hours

*projected through 12/1