Obama campaign site, e-mail alerts direct aid to California wildfire victims

Visitors to Barack Obama’s campaign Web site on Monday were greeted with an appeal to help the victims of Southern California’s wildfires under the heading “Together We Can” with a link to CaliforniaVolunteers.org.

Obama campaign wildfire aid appeal.

Obama campaign wildfire aid appeal.

Over the past few days, wildfires in Southern California have destroyed more than 1,000 homes and burned over 40,000 acres of land, forcing many more families to evacuate their communities.

Throughout the campaign, we saw time and again that when ordinary people act together, they can make a huge difference.

The Obama campaign also sent an e-mail and text alert to its 10-million-member mailing list, including this appeal:

The Red Cross and Salvation Army are coordinating relief for the victims, and volunteers on the ground are being organized to help with long-term recovery efforts in the days and months to come. If you live in or near Southern California you can volunteer now, and no matter where you live you can help by donating to the relief efforts.

The links are routed through the California governor’s office, which has specific information about the Santa Barbara, Los Angeles and Orange County relief efforts. The CaliforniaVolunteers.org site cautions everyone, including potentially over-zealous Obama workers used to diving right in: “Due to dangerous conditions, please do not travel to the areas affected by the fires without explicit instructions from a qualified emergency response organization.”

Follow the progress battling the wildfires on the California Office of Emergency Services site here.

During the campaign, Obama for America used its vast fundraising and volunteer network to raise awareness and funds when other disasters struck, including Hurricane Gustav.

Matthew DeLong points out on our sister site, The Washington Independent, that the Gustav appeal demonstrated the Obama network’s as-yet-unproven capabilities as the General Election campaign was just getting underway. According to a Newsweek account published last week:

At the end of August, as Hurricane Gustav threatened the coast of Texas, the Obama campaign called the Red Cross to say it would be routing donations to it via the Red Cross home page. Get your servers ready — our guys can be pretty nuts, Team Obama said. Sure, sure, whatever, the Red Cross responded. We’ve been through 9/11, Katrina, we can handle it. The surge of Obama dollars crashed the Red Cross Web site in less than 15 minutes.

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Ernest Luning

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