COLORADO SPRINGS, COLO., June 18, 2013, 10am – The American Red Cross is ramping up outreach efforts to meet the needs of residents affected by the Black Forest wildfire as they are allowed to return to their homes. Red Cross workers continue to offer services at the multi-agency Disaster Assistance Center at El Paso County Public Health (1675 W. Garden of the Gods Rd.) open 8am- 6pm. Residents can access safety guidance for returning to home, recovery information and resources, comfort kits, grief counseling, and more.
Additional Red Cross aid stations distributing cleanup kits, water, snacks, and offering informational resources and emotional counseling will be open today:
Cleanup supplies including items such as sifters, shovels, trash bags, work gloves, rakes, paper towels, and facemasks will be available at fixed site locations and mobile distribution beginning Wednesday or Thursday.
The Red Cross shelter at Palmer Ridge High School remains open for residents evacuated for the wildfire. Last night, 27 evacuated individuals stayed overnight at the Red Cross shelter.
The Red Cross Wildfire app provides a wide range of tips on returning home and recovering after a wildfire. They are provided below:
Returning Home & Recovering after a Wildfire:
Ensure your food and water are safe
Inspecting your home
- Debris should be wetted down to minimize health impacts from breathing dust particles.
- Use a two-strap dust particulate mask with nose clip and coveralls for the best minimal protection.
- Wear leather gloves to protect hands from sharp objects while removing debris.
- Wear rubber gloves when working with outhouse remnants, plumbing fixtures, and sewer piping. They can contain high levels of bacteria.
- Hazardous materials such as kitchen and bathroom cleaning products, paint, batteries, contaminated fuel, and damaged fuel containers need to be properly handled to avoid risk. Check with local authorities for hazardous disposal assistance.
- If you have a propane tank system, contact a propane supplier. Turn off valves on the system, and leave valves closed until the supplier inspects your system.
- If you have a heating oil tank system, contact a heating oil supplier for an inspection of your system before using.
- Visually check the stability of the trees. Any tree that has been weakened by fire may be a hazard.
- Look for burns on the tree trunk. If the bark on the trunk has been burned off or scorched by very high temperatures completely around the circumference, the tree will not survive and should be considered unstable.
- Look for burnt roots by probing the ground with a rod around the base of the tree and several feet away from the base. If the roots have been burned, you should consider this tree very unstable.
- A scorched tree is one that has lost part or all of its leaves or needles. Healthy deciduous trees are resilient and may produce new branches and leaves as well as sprouts at the base of the tree. Evergreen trees may survive when partially scorched but are at risk for bark beetle attacks
RED CROSS SERVICES: To date, the Red Cross and partner agencies have provided the following services:
HOW TO HELP: If you would like to support Red Cross Disaster Relief go to redcross.org/Colorado, call 1-800-REDCROSS or text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation via your cell phone bill.
Note: Donations made via text-to-give will be allocated to support Red Cross 2013 Colorado Wildfires Response.
IN-KIND DONATIONS: The Red Cross is unable to accept small, individual donations or collections of items such as clothing, food or cleaning supplies. The cost to sort, package and distribute these types of donations to disaster victims is almost always greater than the cost of purchasing the items locally, and it is logistically impossible to distribute a wide variety of individual items in a meaningful way.
VOLUNTEERING: The Red Cross relies on a workforce of trained volunteers to provide emergency assistance. We currently have enough volunteer staff to meet our operational needs and have received more than 1,000 applications from new volunteers. If you would like to apply to volunteer with the Red Cross, visit http://www.redcross.org/co/denver/volunteer and fill out an application; please be patient, as current volume of applicants is extremely high.
Individuals interested in other volunteer opportunities can also visit www.helpcoloradonow.org to browse other opportunities.
About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies nearly half of the nation's blood; teaches lifesaving skills; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a charitable organization — not a government agency — and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit www.redcross.org or join our blog at http://blog.redcross.org.