While most of the country is getting ready to celebrate the Fourth of July holiday, wildfires and flooding continue to affect people’s lives in the East and West, and the American Red Cross is busy helping with shelter, food, relief supplies and a shoulder to lean on.
WILDFIRES Even as new wildfires break out in the West, the Red Cross has shelters open and is responding to help people affected by the fire near Yarnell, Arizona which claimed the lives of 19 firefighters earlier in the week. That fire has burned more than 8,000 acres and also forced more than 1,000 people to evacuate.
Red Cross mental health workers are helping people in Yarnell cope with the tragic death of the firefighters. A community meeting was held at the Red Cross shelter at Wickenburg High School and Red Crosser Stephanie Vitanza talked to evacuees about their experiences and provided comfort items for children including coloring books and stuffed animals.
During the meeting, children were invited to draw pictures. Young Ethan Mapstone said drawing a picture made him feel better. He and his family have been staying at a local hotel and they don’t know if their home is affected. Residents are experiencing many different emotions and can reach out for free 24/7 counseling through the Disaster Distress Helpline at 1-800-985-5990 or text “TalkWithUs” to 66746.
According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), there are 129 new fires burning, including 31 large fires which are not contained. Fires are affecting people in Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Oregon, Alaska, Idaho, California and Nevada. A new fire in Mojave County, Arizona has consumed more than 3,000 acres and forced more than 1,200 people from their homes
FLOODING Heavy rains continue to cause flash flooding from Georgia to New England. The Red Cross has shelters open in New Hampshire, North Carolina and New York where more than 60 people took refuge Tuesday night from the floodwaters.
In Cheshire and Grafton counties in New Hampshire, heavy rain resulted in flooding and mudslides that forced people from their homes. The New Hampshire Chapter of the Red Cross is supporting a community shelter and working with officials to determine what additional help people will need.
The Red Cross of Northeastern New York continues to assist people affected by the flooding in the Empire State, providing shelter, food, clean-up and comfort items. Red Cross health and mental health service workers are also on hand to assist people as they deal with the loss of their homes and belongings.
In North Carolina, the Triangle Area Red Cross Chapter is assisting people near Chapel Hill, North Carolina where the continuous rain forced people from their homes. Red Cross workers are providing shelter, food and health and mental health services and helping assess damages to determine what help people will need.
HOW TO HELP If you would like to help the people affected by these disasters, you can make a donation to Red Cross Disaster Relief on this web site or by calling 1-800-RED CROSS. People can also text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.