Letter to South Shore Chamber members ...
Since June 24, 2007 when the Angora fire stormed through the west end of South Lake Tahoe, your Chamber staff has been hard at work juggling fire-related issues and staying the course to promote business and economic interests for our members.
The week of the fire while emergency personnel, city, county and state officials were busy handling the emergency the Chamber stepped in to help out in myriad ways. On Monday June 25th and throughout the week ongoing updates were emailed to the membership providing up to date, accurate, relevant and vital information about the status of the fire, business impacts and where to go to receive assistance or drop off donations. As a part of this effort we worked to counteract inaccurate information such as that disseminated by other organizations that stated businesses were being asked to close their doors and that the high school was on fire.
On Tuesday June 26th the Chamber convened the first of several emergency meetings comprised of local business leaders to discuss what steps could and should be taken by the business community. Of prime concern was the safety and well being of those directly impacted by the fire. Recognizing that the professionals were handling those issues our attention shifted to what we could do to stabilize the immediate and long term effects of the fire so that the community would not be burned twice by the Angora Fire.
Steps were immediately taken to open the Angora Fire Fund (Locals for Locals) with the first check coming from Lake side Inn and Casino in the amount of $5,000. The Chamber then coordinated a nationwide publicity campaign in order to give concerned individuals and corporations a way to make an immediate donation to a local organization. During the next two weeks we worked tirelessly to recruit exemplary community leaders to sit on the Angora Fire Fund Board (a separate 501(c) 3) in order to ethically, fairly and transparently distribute the funds we knew would generously be given. Additional information on the make-up of that Board and how to apply for assistance can be found at www.helptahoe.com A press release is attached with more details and updated numbers.
Additional undertakings related to the fire during this time were:
· In partnership with the LTVA a massive PR campaign was undertaken to assure our expected July 4th and future visitors they could come to town and visit recreational facilities and sites as well as our town as the fire had not affected those areas. Special attention was made to emphasize that one of the key ways to support the South Shore community after the fire would be to visit and spend vacation dollars here. This effort is ongoing.
· The Lake Tahoe South Shore Chamber of Commerce presented several workshops and forums on fire-related topics of interest to the community and survivors such as the July 17th event attended by approximately 100 individuals.
· Organized the logistics, set up and in-kind donations for the Call Center during the American Century Golf Tournament and recruited the volunteers to staff the center for 3 days.
· In partnership with the South Tahoe Realtors Association worked to ensure that a list of temporary and long term accommodations (preferably not vacation rentals) was prepared and ready for the survivors as their needs arose
· In partnership with our North Shore Chamber Alliance members we were the first to advocate for the development of the Blue Ribbon Fire Commission approved by Governors Schwarzenegger and Gibbons. This Commission is scheduled to meet for the first time in September.
· The Chamber operated as a drop off center for donations.
· Chamber staff attended all Town Hall Meetings and many Press Conferences to ensure we had up to date and accurate information to disseminate via phone, fax & email.
· We continue to respond to individual requests for information from potential future business and leisure travelers.
· Continue to produce press releases, do interviews and answer media calls from out of the area in an effort to promote visitation and ongoing support for rebuilding.
· The Chamber became and still is functioning as a central resource information line for fire survivors and their concerned family and friends handling upwards of 40 fire related calls or visits every day.
·Worked to support and promote Assemblyman Ted Gaines community meeting.
·Attended Joint Fire Chief’s meeting to express the business owner’s concerns in regards to fire threats and fuels reduction.
·Secured donated web design services for www.helptahoe.com and continue to provide updated information on the recovery efforts to the media and websites
·Chamber CEO and President “B” Gorman serves on the Angora Fire Fund Board attending weekly meetings and filling other functions as needed.
· Both the CA and NV Chamber offices are pick-up and drop off sites for Angora Fire Survivors for Fire Fund Applications.
· Hosted numerous meetings to facilitate the development of a Community Disaster Resource Center . The Chamber staff has again worked tirelessly to build a dedicated, talented and compassionate Board of Directors who will oversee this much needed organization to assist the survivors with their long term healing and rebuilding needs. The Community Disaster Resource Center Board has begun to move forward in its efforts to have a full time center up and staffed in the very near future. This center will serve as a home base for Survivors who will be able to meet with case workers, learn the whereabouts of their neighbors, and get updated on resources available, meetings of importance and issues relevant to their recovery.
·The Chamber served as a distribution source for free insurance inventory guides and provide links to mentors and organizations that assist survivors with insurance challenges.
·The Chamber staff has worked with County officials to protect and promote the reputation of existing Chamber members who offer myriad services needed by the survivors in their rebuilding efforts. Similarly the Chamber has supported the State and County in their efforts to ensure that only qualified corporations are working in the fire zone so that homeowners are not subjected to unscrupulous practices.
Chamber staff members have also continued daily operations to assist membership with various issues, host workshops, after-hours mixers and promote economic and business interests to local political leaders including our recent proposal for a Wayfinding Signage Program for the South Shore which was approved by a 3-2 vote of City Council.
We have strived each and every day to respond to each and every request and to provide our service and expertise when we saw a need. We trust that you continue to be proud to be a member of just such an organization and recognize that it is your investment that enables us to continue to promote the community and work towards building a stronger economy.
“B” Gorman, Nancy Kerry & Pam Ross-Osinski