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Red Cross Supports Local Communities Affected by Powerful Storms

In the Northern California Coastal Region, hundreds of local Red Cross disaster workers are responding or are on standby to respond to their community needs.

Monday, January 30, 2017, noon

The American Red Cross responded to a series of powerful storms during the first two weeks of January that brought large amounts of rain and high winds to Northern California.

Impacts from the storm system included heavy precipitation, including mountain snows affecting travelers, strong winds, flash flooding, mud and debris flows, main-stem river flooding and damaging high surf.

During the series of storms, the Red Cross worked closely with the entire response community — federal, state, county and local agencies, non-profit and faith-based organizations, area businesses, and others — to coordinate relief efforts and deliver help to impacted families so they can access resources to help them with their recovery.

  • Shelter (Evacuation Centers) — Six Red Cross shelters opened and closed quickly during the storms, depending on need, to provide a temporary warm and dry haven for families who were displaced from their homes by flooding. The Red Cross shelters provided immediate needs of those evacuated, including a safe place to stay, food (meals, snacks), water, health services, emotional support, information, and other support resources.
  • Bulk Distribution (Relief Supplies) — Red Cross volunteers provided comfort and cleaning items such as gloves, goggles, buckets, trash bags, and bleach to residents in the Carmel Valley, Felton, Hollister, Guerneville and Rio Monte areas.
  • Casework (Resource & Referrals) — Red Cross caseworkers continue to meet one-on-one with affected families to assess their disaster-caused needs and provide qualified residents with immediate disaster assistance as well as recovery planning and referrals to other agencies, who may be able to provide additional assistance to impacted residents.

    Since Saturday, January 4, 435 Red Cross local disaster workers, most of whom are volunteers, have:

  • Provided 2,792 meals and snacks to first responders and recovery teams.
  • Distributed 1,978 comfort and cleaning supplies.
  • Provided 299 emotional support and health services by licensed mental health and health service volunteers.
  • Opened 77 cases, providing support and financial assistance to 210 people.
  • Like always, the Red Cross is there and will be there for as long as we are needed.

  • People who have urgent after-hours disaster-related needs are encouraged to call 866-272-2237 to be connected with a Red Cross caseworker.

  • Sonoma County —
  • Monterey and San Benito Counties —

    As new storms emerge in the forecast, they could cause additional issues for areas already affected by the January storms. As a result, the Red Cross encourages all residents to take steps to prepare now.

    Download the free Red Cross Emergency App to have safety information and shelter locations available on your mobile device.

  • The Emergency App features emergency weather alerts to help keep the user safe, and provides information about what to do in case of floods as well as the locations of open shelters.
  • Red Cross apps are available in smartphone app stores by searching for the American Red Cross or going to
  • MUDSLIDE SAFETY — Landslides generally happen where they have occurred before. Areas where forest or brush fires have burned are also susceptible to landslides. People should follow these steps to remain safe:

  • Listen for unusual sounds such as trees cracking or boulders knocking together. If you suspect danger, evacuate immediately.
  • If you are near a stream or channel, watch for any sudden increase or decrease in water flow or if the water changes from clear to muddy. Such changes may mean there is debris flow activity upstream so be prepared to move quickly.
  • Be especially alert when driving — watch for collapsed pavement, mud, fallen rocks and other indications of possible debris flow.
  • If you are ordered or decide to evacuate, take your animals with you.
  • FLOOD SAFETY — Conditions that cause floods include heavy or steady rain for several hours or days that saturates the ground. Flash floods occur suddenly due to rapidly rising water along a stream or low-lying area. Below and available on are a few steps people should follow to remain safe during a flood:

  • People living in communities threatened by flooding should keep informed about weather conditions and listen to the advice of local officials.
  • If your neighborhood is prone to flooding, be prepared to evacuate quickly if necessary.
  • Follow evacuation orders and do not attempt to return until officials say it is safe to do so.
  • Head for higher ground and stay there.
  • Stay away from floodwaters. If you come upon a flowing stream where water is above your ankles, stop, turn around and go another way.
  • Turn around, don’t drown. If driving, turn around and go another way. If you are caught on a flooded road and waters are rising rapidly around you, get out of the car quickly and move to higher ground. Most cars can be swept away by less than two feet of moving water.
  • Keep children out of the water.
  • Be especially cautious at night when it’s harder to see flood danger. As flood waters go down, return home only when officials say it is safe to do so and follow these safety steps:

  • Before entering your home, look outside for loose power lines, damaged gas lines, foundation cracks or other damage.
  • Parts of your home may be collapsed or damaged. Approach entrances carefully. See if porch roofs and overhangs have all their supports.
  • Watch out for wild animals, especially poisonous snakes that may have come into your home with the floodwater.
  • If you smell natural or propane gas or hear a hissing noise, leave immediately and call the fire department.• If power lines are down outside your home, do not step in puddles or standing water.• Keep children and pets away from hazardous sites and floodwater.• Materials such as cleaning products, paint, batteries, contaminated fuel and damaged fuel containers are hazardous. Check with local authorities for assistance with disposal to avoid risk.• During cleanup, wear protective clothing, including rubber gloves and rubber boots.


    VOLUNTEER — An average of 90% of Red Cross workers are local volunteers. To volunteer with future response efforts, please apply online at to start the steps to become a trained Red Cross volunteer. Upon completing the process, people will be contacted to determine their availability, skill and where they are needed the most.

    DONATION — Help people affected by disasters like flooding in California and countless other crises by making a gift to Red Cross Disaster Relief.

    Your gift enables the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters big and small.

    To donate, people can visit, call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

    Your gift enables the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters big and small.