Photo by Devon RavineNorthwest Florida Daily News via AP.

The Santa Rosa Beach wildfires: How you can help a local favorite destination

When it rains, it pours–no matter where you call home, even if it’s the beach. At least, that’s the case for more than 500 families in Walton County, Florida, the popular beach destination that includes many Baton Rougeans’ favorite surfside communities along Scenic Highway 30A.

What started as the private burning of illegal materials quickly turned into a nightmare due to low humidity and high winds carrying the flames far past containment. Initially, the small burn was centrally located near Mussett Bayou, but it quickly escalated into two separate wildfires roaring through Santa Rosa Beach. In turn, it didn’t take long before people were encouraged to break Florida’s stay-at-home order. Thousands of Florida residents were forced to evacuate their homes, and more than 2,000 acres and 33 buildings were destroyed, leaving local families and small businesses with nowhere to return to.

Walton County is known for its picturesque environment filled with beautiful beaches and hospitable people always eager to welcome travelers–especially Baton Rouge locals on a 30A getaway. And while many of us have been lucky enough to enjoy many trips to 30A, now the community is in need of help in other ways. Below are a few ways you can donate to Walton County families and individuals in need after last week’s fires:

Caring and Sharing of South Walton is providing food and financial assistance to those in need in the South Walton area. Click here to find out how you can help in their efforts by making a donation.

Schools in Walton County are collecting clothing and toiletries, as well monetary donations for students and families affected by the fires. Donations can be mailed to Van R. Butler Elementary School in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida. Click here for a list of requested items and more information.

The Walton County Animal Shelter is collecting donations for rescued animals that were displaced or abandoned due to the fires. Visit the WCAS website to purchase items from its Amazon wishlist or to make a monetary donation.

Matrix Community Outreach is collecting donations in order to serve each victim’s specific needs, including both mental and physical health. For more information on Matrix’s efforts, or how to donate, click here.

Have you ever vacationed to South Walton? Share with us your favorite 30A memory in the comments below.