BANDON - When Goodnight and Lynette Lucas heard that the Camp Fire in November devastated the town of Paradise, Calif., as well as surrounding areas, including the small towns of Concow and Magalia, Calif., they knew they had to do something.
With 85 confirmed dead in Paradise and 14,000 homes destroyed, and hundreds of homes also destroyed in Concow and Magalia, located northeast of Paradise, there were also many animals that perished or were separated from their owners. Of the thousands of people still staying in trailers, tents and motels in both towns, some of those who did find their pets and livestock are without the means to feed and care for them.
Goodnight, owner of Bandon Feed and Farm on Highway 42S, knew there were relief agencies working in Paradise, but what about Concow and Magalia? Lynette has a high school classmate from Gold Beach, Kristi Sterling, who now lives in Oroville and through her - and the many generous donations from people all along the South Coast - a relief effort from Bandon has been taking place for the past several weeks.
Dave Robinson of Myrtle Point, former postmaster in Bandon and author of a weekly newspaper column and book about disaster preparedness, heard about the effort and offered to drive down the supplies that were piling up at Bandon Animal Rescue.
"Since I'm kind of in the disaster preparedness business, I figured I can do something to help out," Robinson said.
So far, Robinson has made two trips to Concow, about a seven-hour drive. Another man, Daniel King, made two trips to Paradise with the first two loads, Goodnight said. Each trip has included animal feed and supplies as well as items for people, such as clothing, tents and even toys for the children who have been displaced.
The supplies are being donated by people in Bandon, Coquille, Myrtle Point, Powers, Coos Bay and North Bend and even Crescent City, Calif., or are being purchased by Bandon Animal Rescue with cash donations.
The Dollar Tree in Bandon collected 1,494 toys from shoppers for the local VFW, which usually donates them to Operation Home Front, according to George Trott, VFW commander. But this year, Trott and the VFW decided to have those toys sent to Paradise instead.
"It worked out real good," Trott said.
The Lucas's, whose nonprofit 501(c)(3) Bandon Animal Rescue takes in surrendered or abandoned animals of all kinds and adopts them out, was particularly concerned about the displaced pets.
"People are just now going into their lots to clean up and have been staying in tents and trailers in parking lots," Goodnight said. "We're sending them animal food, tents, food, rain gear, rakes and shovels."
Lucas said they were the first organization to arrive with supplies for Concow. Thanks to Lynette's connections with Sterling, they were able to get them directly to a central location where they can be distributed to those in need.
Lucas put the word out on social media that he was looking for supplies and cash donations and they came pouring in from individuals and businesses.
"Paradise is bigger than Coos Bay/North Bend," Lynette said. "They are getting some help. But these smaller towns like Concow and Magalia are not, so that's why we decided to step in. We've basically adopted the town of Concow. And we know that everything we send goes directly to the people."
Bandon Animal Rescue is used to helping animals in need, from nursing them back to health if they've been abandoned, to getting them spayed or neutered before adopting them out. They are also building an animal sanctuary that is designed for people with disabilities to allow them to comfortably interact with the animals that live at the rescue.
They've also helped individuals in town following fire disasters by asking for donations of clothing and furniture. Goodnight is adept at Facebook and Twitter posts, which helps spread the word when there is a need.
And residents far and wide have stepped up to help. The last load that went down on Friday is valued at more than $6,000. It included horse, chicken, pig and large livestock food, dry and canned dog and cat food, food for human consumption such as non-perishables, vegetables and meat, new and used clothing, shovels, rakes and steel fence posts, tarps, tents and cots, and toys.
"Our main concern is for the animals, but the way the animals get cared for is if the people are OK to do that," Lynette said. "We're just trying to give a helping hand to people whose lives have been totally disrupted."
Those who would like to donate can call Bandon Animal Rescue at 541-347-1105 or mail or visit them at 88674 Highway 42S. Especially needed is feed for large animals, dog and cat food, human food, shovels, rakes, heavy work gloves, rubber boots and clothing. To find out more about the relief effort, follow Bandon Animal Rescue on Facebook, where Lucas regularly posts videos and photos.