Disaster relief

Welcome to this week’s Reno News & Review.

Last week, in this spot, I wrote about how this recent snowfall we had was not much of a disaster. Yes, it was a seven-day wonder but more inconvenient than tragic.

While I was writing it, I was thinking about the tsunami victims, but then the news about the La Conchita, Calif., mudslide came in. Ten people died in the Jan. 10 mudslide. I didn’t even think immediately about the fact that my niece, Jessica Lunsford, lives in La Conchita.

I called her, and when she eventually returned my call, she was almost too busy for mourning. She was at the bank when she called, establishing memorial funds for some of the victims and their families. Turns out, some of these people have community connections here in Reno through Burning Man.

I knew two of the victims, and if you are a Burning Man participant, you may have known them, too. I met Charlie Womack two years ago at Burning Man; he was kind of the head of the La Conchita Llama Tribe, of which my niece is a member, and that welcomed Kathleen and me into their camp and shared their liquor and food with us. Womack died in the landslide and left quite a family behind. Gator (Jimmy Wallet), the dreadlocked poet who lost three daughters and a wife in the disaster and whose grief played out all over CNN, wrote a rap for me. I was going to use it in last fall’s Burning Man issue, but it got cut for space, and his photo and poem have been sitting on my desk for months.

At any rate, a Web site, www.santabarbara.com/ Victims-of-La-Conchita, has been set up to aid the families of the victims. If you’re not an Internet person, money donations for funerals, food and clothing can go for The Wallet Memorial Fund; The Delgado-Kennedy Memorial Fund; The Bryson Memorial Fund; The Womack Memoral Fund; or The Alvis Memorial Fund at Santa Barbara Bank & Trust, P.O. Box 427, Carpinteria, CA 93014.