US football star Aaron Rodgers, quarterback for the Green Bay Packers, is donating US$1 million to assist California’s wildfire relief efforts, national news sources said Wednesday.
A California native, Rodgers was raised near the site of the tragic, Nov. 2 fire which caused the deaths of over 80 Paradise city residents.
"I've been on the phone with a lot of folks close to me in Northern California and in Southern California,” the pro-football player said in a Twitter video.
“I personally reached out to my friends and the mayor of Chico to find out how to be of the most help. And raising money for both immediate needs and the long-term recovery is what is needed most right now," he said.
In addition to his generous donation, Rodger is teaming up with State Farm in an online campaign. With every share his video earns, the insurance company pledged to donate a dollar up to US$1 million.
The athlete explained, “It's to raise a greater awareness. There's an out-of-sight, out-of-mind element that happens with a lot of people. It's big news in the beginning and then slowly it fades away as far as the fire's contained and you're starting to pick up the pieces.
“The recovery process is months, it's years of putting the pieces back together. I wanted to use my platform to raise awareness that this is a need that's going to be ongoing — long after the cameras and FEMA are gone," he said.
The athlete also successfully convinced his team to donate US$250,000.
The number of residents needing temporary shelter was unclear, but as many as 52,000 people were under evacuation orders at the height of the firestorm last week.
The Camp Fire incinerated some 12,600 homes in and around Paradise.The remains of two more victims were found in Paradise Tuesday, raising the death toll to 81. The Butte County Sheriff’s Office has tentatively identified 56 of the victims.
Despite preliminary reports of over 1,200 missing-persons, a list compiled by the sheriff’s office reported only 870 names Tuesday night after detectives worked through a backlog of voicemail messages, the office said.
On Monday, weather officials warned displaced Californians of an incoming 20 cm of rain expected to arrive Friday which will likely trigger landslides.