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I chatted just now with Karen Youel, director of special projects for Habitat for Humanity San Diego. She said the agency has begun to organize a fund that will help rebuild some of the homes destroyed by fires this week.

“In the short term, we’ll be participating in recovery — clearing land, cleaning up,” Youel said. “The clean-up was very long, very protracted after the last fire. And we assume that there will be need for our services long-term in the next few months.”

It is too early to begin those long-term rebuilding efforts, she said.

“The phones have been very quiet,” she said. “People are still at a point where they’re concerned with immediate survival, which is absolutely appropriate. We won’t have an indication about a timeline until the fires have stopped.”

Youel said Habitat rebuilt 23 homes in Crest, Descanso, Lakeside, Ramona and Valley Center for victims of the Cedar and Paradise fires in 2003.

“As far as we know the fire has at this point skipped over them,” she said. “I believe that everybody whom we rebuilt for had been evacuated.”

In the coming weeks and months, Habitat will hold orientation sessions for candidates for rebuilding assistance, Youel said.

To donate to Habitat’s Firestorm Disaster Rebuild Fund, go to the agency’s website.

KELLY BENNETT

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