When a four alarm brush fire destroyed eight homes and damaged three more on July 4, 2014 in Collinsville, California, the residents of those homes had no idea what they would do next. But help was soon on the way.
That help came from Solano Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (SVOAD) a coalition of organizations that includes the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army, and Solano County Office of Emergency Services who quickly stepped in to help the families and support the emergency responders.
SVOAD is one of many similar volunteer emergency assistance organizations across the country with response teams on call 24/7 ready to help people affected by a disaster, whether it’s a family home that burns to the ground, a plane crash or an explosion like the eight alarm fire that swept San Bruno, California, in September 2010 killing eight people, destroying 38 homes and damaging many more.
The Red Cross Disaster Action Team (DAT) on call on July 4 provided snacks and beverages to the displaced people and the firefighters as well as toiletries for the families then started contacting local hotels and motels to find temporary lodging for the first few nights. DAT teams are on call around the clock to assist people affected by disasters.
“We also provided food, clothing, shoes, breathing nebulizers and replacement of medications,” said American Red Cross Solano County Disaster Program Manager Debbie Yee.
The Salvation Army emergency kitchen arrived in Collinsville soon after the fire and served dinner to the first responders and later took over solving longer term temporary housing problems after the initial Red Cross response.
SVOAD coordinated the activities of the volunteer organizations responding to this event, then facilitated a town meeting to identify specific needs and provide support in every area from temporary and long term housing to food, clothing and other necessities.
Yee said the Collinsville event was the first time SVOAD was activated to share information between organizations. “It really highlighted how far we have come from a year ago,” she said.
“This disaster allowed us to demonstrate the four C’s (Coordination, Communication, Cooperation and Consideration) by working together. That’s essential when different organizations help with a disaster,” said Kari Rader, chair of the VOAD Partnership Committee and Program Director of Community Action Partnerships (CAP) Solano.
Rader said the best way to help people who lost their homes and possessions in the Collinsville fire is through monetary donations. Donations can be made to the American Red Cross, San Francisco Office, 1663 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94103 or online at www.redcross.org. The Salvation Army accepts donations at PO Box 1644, Suisun, CA 94585 or online at www.SolanoArmyOfHope.org.
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