A California firefighter saw his home and most of his town go up in flames when the Dixie wildfire tore through Greenville, Calif. last month. But he now has a place to live and a set of wheels to go places thanks to a nonprofit that is giving away motorhomes to people who lost everything in the recent wildfires.
He is the 95th person to receive a motorhome from EmergencyRV. The volunteer group takes donated RVs and delivers them to people in desperate need. Because temporary housing from the government can take months to sort out, EmergencyRV is a stopgap that keeps those people from being homeless.
“We’re grassroots; we can move a lot faster than that,” group founder Woody Faircloth told the Associated Press. “It’s people helping people. … We can get there almost immediately.”
That RV came from a couple in Oregon, who handed over their 35-foot motorhome to the group to give away. They often turn to Twitter to get help coordinating donations and moving trailers.
Faircloth came up with the idea for EmergencyRV in 2018 during the deadly Camp Fire, he told the AP. He saw a news report of a man who escaped the wildfires in his RV and was just happy to still have a place to call home.
Faircloth said that struck him. So, the Denver man turned to his then 6-year-old daughter, Luna, with an idea.
“Why don’t we get an RV and drive it out there, and give it to a family that lost their home? What do you think about that?” he asked.
“Aw, Dad, God and Santa Claus are gonna be proud of us,” she replied. So, he bought an RV on Craiglist that weekend for $2,500 and drove it to California to give away.
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Faircloth works a full-time job at Comcast but spends a lot of his free time on the road. He and Luna have spent three weekends over the past two months, driving hundreds of miles back and forth to parts of the West Coast to pick up and give away RVs.
Firefighter George Wolley lost his home on Aug. 4 in the Dixie Fire. The Faircloths delivered an RV to him recently. He said the donation helped him through a dark period in his life.
“Before I got that RV, I felt like I was a burden on everybody that helped me,” Wolley said. “I slept a lot in tents and in my car. It gave me a place to go.”
Wolley owns that RV outright. These donations are for the victims to keep. But some, Faircloth told the AP, return the motorhomes to the group after they sort out permanent housing. Then the group can deliver that RV to another family in need.
More than 100 people are currently on the EmergencyRV waiting list.