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Red Cross Helps Wildfire, Baja Evacuees

A Red Cross volunteer and a firefighter talk while wildfires burn in the distance.
There is a surreal sense that life just stopped.

The American Red Cross is helping people impacted by wildfires in California as well as people returning to the United States from the Baja Peninsula in the wake of Hurricane Odile.

WILDFIRE RESPONSE Thousands of people are still out of their homes in California as wildfires continue to spread. Nearly 100 Red Cross disaster workers are helping people affected by two fires – the King Fire in El Dorado County and the Boles Fire in Siskiyou County. The Red Cross has shelters open and is providing meals and snacks, comfort kits and health and mental health services.

Kathleen Weis, Chief Executive Officer of the Red Cross Capital Region in Sacramento, described the situation. “When I went to bed the (King) fire was affecting roughly 21,000 acres. When I awoke it was 70,000 and had nearly tripled in size in one night,” she said. We are hoping the firefighters win control over this very dangerous fire.”

“I drove up to Weed (Boles Fire) to survey the damage,” Weis said. “It is quite extensive and very sad. All of the residents have been evacuated from the area so there is a surreal sense that life just stopped. There is no noise, no children playing, no voices, nothing, only the sound of chainsaws as fire and utility workers cut down damaged trees and poles.”

“Between the 2 fires we have nearly 100 people working on the relief efforts,” Weis continued. “The staff and volunteers continue to amaze me.”

WILDFIRE SAFETY The Red Cross has steps residents should take if their community is threatened by these fires. They should make sure the entrance to their driveway and house number are clearly marked. Other safety steps include the following:

  • If a fire is burning in the area, be ready to evacuate quickly.
  • Back the car into the garage or park it out in the open facing the direction you need to go to escape.
  • If you have pets, keep them in one room so you know where they area if you have to evacuate.
  • People can use the Wildfire App to find locations of open Red Cross shelters and learn how to help protect themselves and their property.

    BACK FROM BAJA Thousands of U.S. tourists are coming back to the United States after dealing with the destruction Hurricane Odile did to the Baja Peninsula and Red Cross disaster workers are meeting their planes to offer support as they arrive back in the country.

    In Houston, the Red Cross provided support to more than 360 passengers on one flight, making sure they had something to eat, comfort kits containing personal hygiene items, and health and mental health support. Another flight arrived late in the evening and the Red Cross provided meals to those on board.

    The Red Cross is also supporting passengers on flights going into the airport in Phoenix, and is working with officials to support those returning to other locations if necessary.

    MEXICO RESPONSE Odile hit the Baja Peninsula earlier this week, impacting those who live in its path and at least 15,000 tourists who were vacationing. Anyone trying to locate or check in on a U.S. citizen in Baja can contact the State Department’s Overseas Citizen Services at 1-888-407-4747.

    The storm has left more than 80 percent of the population in Los Cabos and La Paz without electrical power, damaged roadways and closed ports. The Mexican Red Cross has opened collection centers in several states to help those affected and sent the first shipment of 2,000 food parcels to the city of Los Cabos to support people impacted by the storm.

    There are about 500 disaster workers who have come from all over Mexico to help. The volunteers, 120 of whom are paramedics, are providing basic medical check-ups and delivering food to people housed in shelters.

    The members of the Mexican Red Cross participating in the response are specialists in collapsed structures, damage evaluations, pre-hospital care, logistics support in shelters and collection centers. The Mexican Red Cross is working closely with federal authorities, Civil Protection, the Governors Secretariat, the Mexican Marines and Army, to deliver the aid to the people affected as quickly as possible. Another storm, Hurricane Polo, is threatening the Mexican state of Guerrero, where at least 120 Mexican Red Cross volunteers are prepositioned to act if needed.

    About the American Red Cross:
    The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or cruzrojaamericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.

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