Kate Heard-Zeryny, an executive with master agent Sandler Partners, has seen first-hand the toll the California wildfires are taking on her friends and business colleagues.
"Many of our clients [and] business partners' buildings have burnt to the ground and are desperately needing emergency services," said Heard-Zeryny, regional vice president at Sandler Partners, Hermosa Beach, Calif.
The raging wildfires that have been burning since October 8 in California have claimed the lives of 42 people with about 50 still missing. The state's insurance commissioner estimates that insured losses will top $1.045 billion. FEMA has declared eight entire counties as disaster zones. At least four major fires are still burning as of this writing, and some 15,000 people remain evacuated.
Carriers with infrastructure in the area, meanwhile, have been "as responsive as they can be," said Heard-Zeryny, who lives in the Novato area in Northern California. She said that service providers with a footprint in the region can't get into the affected areas to repair facilities, as some locations are still considered mandatory evacuation zones.
Another Sandler Partners employee, Tiffany Bagala, works from her home in Santa Rosa as the director of sales for the master agent. She and her family were evacuated for a time, but have since returned. A number of the sub-agent partners she works with, however, were among the estimated 5,450 residential home losses reported by insurance companies in the state.
Bagala, a board member for the Volunteer Center of Sonoma County, is one of many channel partners and executives stepping up to helping the community. She's helping the local school districts by getting new computers or tablets to teachers and students that lost everything in the fires.
"It's really been amazing to see the community rally together, supporting one another," she said.
Petaluma, Calif.-based master agent Intelisys, located within Sonoma County, has been one of the most active companies involved in the relief effort since the fires began burning on Oct. 8.
Roughly half of the company's employees live in the areas that the fires torched, including the Santa Rosa and Kenwood areas.
Andrew Pryfogle, senior vice president of cloud transformation for Intelisys, and his family live in Glen Ellen, California. Despite evacuating their home early last week and not being allowed back in yet, the Pryfogle's home is still standing.