PHELAN – Only miles from the destructive Blue Cut Fires and only moments from it starting Ann Kline, the President and Founder of Mea Ola’s Place and her staff began to prepare to house animal evacuees. Mea Ola’s Place is located at 11080 Johnson Road in Phelan for years has been known to rescue abused and neglected horses. They help the horses, while the horses help provide therapy to at-risk youth, military service members, physical and sexual abuse survivors, senior citizens, and special needs children and adults.
Just hours after the fire started they started getting calls asking for evacuation and housing assistance. Prepared to step in wherever possible they stepped into action evacuating and housing over 100 animals. These animals included horses, sheep, goats, pigs and chickens. They also provided a temporary place for two families with dogs and cats to wait out the fire.
While working hard to help people in the community in need of evacuation support, Kline was contacted by Janell Tiffany, the Director of Therapeutic Equestrian Program for Teri Inc. in San Diego. Tiffany herself was the victim of a fire losing everything in 2007. Kline said she came up with care packages including pet food and other immediate needs. That is how Kline said it all began.
Soon after they began making flyers and posting them wherever evacuees may see them, when evacuations were lifted, they went into the burn areas to post additional flyers. “We also left our contact info with the Red Cross and Disaster Relief teams when they got into town,” said Kline. “Initially, we were focusing on helping people with their animals, but we were getting donations of clothes and other supplies the victims needed. So when they would come for pet food, we had much more to give them.”
Now as only a week passed from the full containment of the Blue Cut fire, many unaffected are quickly forgetting as hundreds remain displaced. The Red Cross has offered those affected by the fire by attending numerous community events for fire victims. “They were able to give out water, rakes, and shovels. They were also able to put the victims in touch with other organizations like the Lions Club, Salvation Army, helped them to apply for food stamps and provided other resources,” said Kline.
The major help that a lot of these displaced families need has not yet been made available through the County, State or Federal Government. Families are living in tents with no running water, electricity or basic needs met. Makeshift toilets are being made out of toilet seats, bags, and buckets with no set end in sight. No refrigeration to keep food, and no bed to sleep in, these people have been forced to find shelter in tents, sheds, and trailers.
Kline wants to be available to those in need of their help so she has remained open 7 days a week from sunup to sundown she said. So far she said approximately 30 families have arrived for assistance most coming in numb and in shock.”Every person that came didn’t want to take much as they wanted to leave enough for others,” said Kline. She said she has heard stories from each family which was heartbreaking but pushed them to do more.
“I do have a favorite family, it is actually two families that were neighbors,” said Kline. “They were the first people to come here for help. At that point, we didn’t have much in the way of clothing and I started opening my drawers and handing out socks, shirts or whatever I could.” She said the families have returned since and now they have a lot more to offer with the donations of clothes and supplies that have come in. “Right now we do not need any more donations of items,” said Kline. “My plan is to get each family that we know of some news coverage so they can get the help they need. Some were living off the grid with solar and it was all burned up.”
Kline said that many need cleanup assistance with tractors, dumpsters, car haulers and more. “On top of this relief effort we have 47 horses to care for here and our own organization to run,” said Kline. “We are looking for more volunteers and team members. We need help sorting all of the donations we have had, we need additional Volunteer Coordinators, team members, and volunteers.” Those wishing to help in any way can contact Ann Kline at (661) 557-2680.
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