Emily Barany – Strangers helping strangers – ThomasFireHelp.org

In 805conversations by Mark Sylvester

Everything starts with “I don’t know”

On that night, we all lost our sense of security.Emily Barany, Co-Founder, ThomasFireHelp.org

Emily Barany has a great story to tell about how ThomasFireHelp.org started. It was the day after the Thomas Fire had burned through the night and was barreling towards downtown Ventura. She helped a friend evacuate and in the morning started looking for ways to help those affected by the raging fires. She contacted another friend, Chris Collier, from Rincon Strategies, and together they came up with a plan to connect resources within a few days.

Listen as she tells the story of rallying private pilots in the area to create an ad-hoc fleet of planes to transport key personnel and those in need of medical treatment during the worst days, primarily when the 101 freeway was closed.

ThomasFireHelp was born out of the immediate and desperate needs of people in the Ventura and Santa Barbara communities facing disasters of unprecedented scale and destruction. No one knew where to go or what to do, and everyone wanted to help. That was their simple beginning – they became the ‘Craigslist’ of recovery, building a “scrappy” web-based platform connecting those in need with those who had resources to give.

Emily has a background of helping local organizations. Her company, Visionality, works with non-profits to align their vision with their strategy and focus on the business side of the operation.

This episode takes a deep dive into the motivation that has now resulted in the creation of a Disaster Resource and Recovery Platform. Emily admits that she knows nothing about software development, or disaster recovery, which leads to her quote above, “Everything starts with I don’t know.”

She’s been on a steep learning curve since early December 2017 when the Thomas Fire started. She continues to develop the platform, knowing that the recovery efforts may easily take ten years until we’re back to a new normal.

Emily is a graduate of California Lutheran University, one of the sponsors of our podcast and represents her alma mater very nicely.