As the smoke from the Ferguson Fire and other blazes begins to subside and the firefighters are sent back to their respective stations we find that there exists a group who have been financially harmed by the fires.
To be sure, the owners and operators of the local hotels and motels along with the owners of vacation rentals have seen a severe dropoff in the revenue stream that normally makes it possible to make it through the year.
Restaurants have seen the effects of far less traffic heading toward Yosemite or to Bass Lake which means that the cash registers aren’t as full as hoped for. Gasoline stations are not as crowded as when the tourists are filling up boat tanks, campers and trucks hauling trailers.
Then there are the hundreds of employees who have seen fewer hours than planned or even zero hours because their jobs have disappeared once the smoke arrived. I talk with many high school and college students in the spring about their summer job plans and their desire to work and save so that they can head off to school with some money in the bank to last until next year. The lost employment cannot be made up. Those hours are gone with the wind.
We can help our neighbors. Those of us whose employment and income are not dependent upon the tourist industry directly can go into town to buy meals out. The crowds aren’t nearly as bad as they could be and the restaurant will be happy to see you. Be sure to tip the server well; in fact, overtip them to help ease the pain of the lost wages.
I’ve mentioned in previous columns the impact of dollars being spent in an area and have shared what was shared with me that economists say a dollar spent translates into $12 into the local economy until the effect is gone with the money going out of the area. Just imagine that you tip or pay a person $20 and it generates $240 into the economy of Eastern Madera County or into Mariposa.
We don’t need the government to swoop in to make this work, we just need to do it ourselves. Carol and I are going to spend a “Staycation” right here in this beautiful area and we will spend our vacation budget here, where it is needed.
There is another group we need to notice and help: our local rescue workers! For weeks they have cared for people who were evacuated as well as many animals displaced by these fires. They need to be thanked and the funds in their coffers need some help. Animal food isn’t free to shelters and so we need to donate food or dollars to those programs.
We need to show our appreciation to the thousands of tourists who decided to visit us despite the smoke and to continue their traditional vacation plans. This weekend Carol and I are having six people from the Southern California area in for a celebration of our 25th wedding anniversary. Two are staying at our house, two are staying at the RV center in town and two are staying at Ducey’s. They will be spending those Southern California dollars here. It will surely help out Oakhurst.
So Sierra Star readers can assist those neighbors who need our help by spending locally, offering some employment at our homes to people who couldn’t work, donating to local shelters and encouraging our families and friends who live out of the area to come and visit this beautiful area.