The American Red Cross is helping people in Colorado affected by the devastating Black Forest wildfire while launching new responses to fires that broke out this week in Arizona and California.
In Colorado, the Black Forest Fire is almost contained after destroying more than 500 homes in the state’s worst wildfire ever. Officials are allowing some residents to return to their neighborhoods and the Red Cross is providing shelter, guidance, relief supplies and emotional support.
In Arizona, the Red Cross is providing shelter, food, health and mental health services for residents affected by a wildfire that broke out Tuesday in the northern part of the state. The Doce Fire near Prescott in Yavapai County forced hundreds of people from their homes. The Red Cross shelter is also serving as a hub where people can come to get information about the large fire.
In California, a wildfire in Mariposa has burned almost 2,000 acres near Yosemite National Park, putting about 800 structures in peril. The Red Cross opened a shelter and is providing food, health and mental health services for those affected. "We have a mental health worker to help those that are overstressed emotionally from the ordeal of being uprooted from their home," Cindy Thomas of the Red Cross reported.
WILDLFIRE SAFETY Experts say red flag fire warnings are out in several western states today. People should be prepared to evacuate at a moment’s notice if ordered to do so. If someone has to evacuate, they should bring the following supplies:
People can also download the free Red Cross Wildfire App, which gives information about what to do before, during and after a wildfire, even without connectivity, and where Red Cross shelters are located. The app can be downloaded from the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store for Android by searching for American Red Cross.
COLORADO SERVICES TO DATE: The Red Cross and partner agencies have been helping in Colorado since the wildfires forced people from their homes and has provided the following services:
One of those who stopped at the Red Cross aid station at Black Forest Square was Jennifer Corbin-Carson. She and her family recently learned their house was a total loss in the fire. Corbin-Carson along with her husband, 15-year-old daughter and 11-month-old son met with Red Cross workers to talk about their experience.
“We were really upset because we received conflicting information about whether or not our house was in the green or red zones,” she said. “It was a roller coaster of emotions and then we finally find out that our home is gone.”
Corbin-Carson and her family were away from home when someone called to tell her about the Black Forest Fire. They rushed home after the call and were told minutes later that they had to evacuate. Thankfully, the Corbin-Carson’s had made plans in advance of what to do during a disaster.
“After the Waldo Canyon Fire we made sure to prepare what we wanted to take if it happened to us,” she said. Although she accidentally left a lock box of valuables and documents behind, they managed to grab other important items before they had to leave. “You just get so scared that you can’t think straight,” she related. “It is so important to keep your checklist with you.”
Despite the loss of their home, Corbin- Carson is grateful they got out safely and is remaining upbeat. She is now focusing on the family’s long-term recovery plan and ensuring their safety and well-being.
HELPING NEIGHBORS Greeley, Colorado residents Marty and Marlene Martindale have been Red Cross volunteers for several years. The couple assisted people during Hurricane Sandy and last year’s forest fires in Colorado, and are now helping neighbors affected by the current fires in and around Colorado Springs.
The husband and wife have held many different Red Cross volunteer positions while responding to disasters, but they have a true passion for serving those in need from a Red Cross emergency response vehicle (ERV). "We like the feeling we get knowing that we are directly helping people", Martindale said.
The ERV is a disaster response vehicle that is used to serve meals, snacks, water, and recovery supplies to people affected by disasters. The compassionate Colorado duo enjoys serving out of the ERV for many reasons, but their favorite reason would have to be receiving lots of hugs from the people that they serve. Mrs. Martindale also expressed the importance of listening to the victims that reach out for help. "Sometimes people just need to talk," she said. "They have a lot to say and being that listener is an important part of the Red Cross service." She believes when you listen, you learn, and that is important when serving others.
The Martindales join hundreds of other Red Cross volunteers who have come to Colorado to help people affected by the wildfires. They will be helping for as long as they are needed.
HOW TO HELP You can help people affected by disasters like wildfires, tornadoes, floods and other crises by making a donation to American Red Cross Disaster Relief. You can donate by visiting www.redcross.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Your donation helps provide food, shelter and emotional support to those affected by disasters.