New wildfires have been breaking out amid critical fire conditions in the West, and the American Red Cross is responding across Colorado, Arizona and California to help people impacted by the blazes.
COLORADO FIRES Another fire occurred in Colorado, this one in Huerfano County near Walsenburg Red Cross disaster workers opened shelters for people forced from their neighborhoods. The Red Cross is also helping in other parts of the state, providing meals and drinks for first responders and providing shelter, food, comfort kits to those who have had to evacuate.
Meanwhile, Red Cross volunteers continue to help people affected by the Black Forest Fire, delivering clean-up kits, food, water and recovery supplies and meeting with affected residents to provide emotional support, basic health services, and initiate casework to help them with as they recover.
HELPING PEOPLE COPE Red Cross grief and trauma counselor John St. Clair is helping people affected by the Black Forest Fire and could sense the tension behind the sunglasses that shielded Jennifer Schradel’s eyes. “How are you doing? Are you sleeping?” he asked.
St. Clair chatted through the car window with Jennifer and her husband John when they visited a Red Cross aid station set up to help people affected by the Black Forest fire. Counselors are on site to check in with residents and offer support.
Mrs. Schradel reported the last week has been difficult for her family. She and her husband are living in a recreational vehicle with their two young children. The vehicle is parked in her parents’ driveway. When the couple saw the blue sky flicker between orange flames and black smoke, they quickly gathered their two babies, a special-needs adult they are caring for, and their two dogs.
St. Clair assured her she did the right thing getting everyone out. The Red Cross has had more than 500 health and mental health contacts since the fire destroyed hundreds of homes. Counselors continue to offer comfort to residents at Red Cross aid stations in the neighborhood.
RED CROSS ANGEL Red Cross Nurse Pam Robinson has been hailed as an angel by Black Forest residents. Robinson roams the halls at the El Paso County Disaster Assistance Center. When she sees someone in distress, she sits with them and offers compassion and hope in these dark days after the fire.
Homeless and heartbroken over the loss of her home, Brooke Ash, holding her six-month-old daughter Lilianna, found Robinson sitting beside her recently at the Red Cross disaster assistance center.
The young mother fled her home with only the clothes on her back and her daughter in her arms. She recounts the last few days of turmoil, crisscrossing the town, staying with different friends, the hardest part watching her daughter go through it all.
Through her network of partnering agencies, Robinson found Ash and her baby a place to stay. She also found infant supplies like formula, diapers and pacifiers for the young mother.
“I’m so touched by her kindness,” Ash said. “I wasn’t looking for her, but she found me. An angel found me.”
CALIFORNIA, ARIZONA RESPONSE A new fire in California near Santa Barbara threatened hundreds of homes and forced people to evacuate. The Red Cross opened an evacuation shelter for residents in the area affected by the Rice Ranch Fire. The Doce Fire is only ten percent contained near Prescott, Arizona and Red Cross workers continue to provide shelter, food, health and mental health services for those affected.
WILDLFIRE SAFETY With red flag warnings continuing, 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.
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.