After weeks of digging out of the mud that cascaded through town and inundated Laguna Canyon, and much volunteer effort on behalf of victims, there is a sign that Laguna Beach will have extra help on the way.
President Obama's declaration of a statewide emergency from the late December rainstorms should result in assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Whether that will translate into assistance for individuals is another question. FEMA refused to provide financial help for victims of the 2005 Bluebird Canyon landslide, but did come through with backing for the replacement of roads, sewers and other infrastructure to make the canyon safer.
There are now 94 families considered to be in desperate need of assistance, having lost most or all of their belongings, including clothing, appliances and vehicles, due to the disastrous flooding. The Laguna Relief and Resource Coalition is coordinating volunteer help and donations for these folks, some of whom also lost affordable accommodations that cannot be easily replaced in high-priced Laguna Beach.
One thing Laguna Beach excels at is responding in times of crisis, and the community's army of volunteers has again stepped up with admirable energy and expertise. Local groups are planning fundraising events, such as the "Here Comes the Sun" concert this Sunday, and "Maimed," next weekend's musical theater extravaganza from No Square Theatre.
There is a way for everyone to help. To find out what you can do, call the Resource Center at (949) 497-7121.