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Wildfire Evacuees Look to Red Cross for Shelter, Food, Support

Wildfire Evacuees Look to Red Cross for Shelter, Food, Support
I lost everything but I am truly blessed. We are lucky to be alive and getting support from the Red Cross.

Wildfires continue to burn in California where the American Red Cross is on the ground, helping people impacted by the fires.

Hundreds of people are staying in Red Cross and community shelters where they can get food and drinks, showers, support and information about the situation. More than 300 trained Red Cross workers are assisting those impacted by the fires and more workers are on the way from different parts of the country.

RED CROSS RESPONSE The Red Cross has provided the following assistance as of Friday to people impacted by the fires:

  • More than 5,400 overnight stays in shelters
  • More than 32,000 meals and snacks
  • Thousands of relief supplies
  • More than 2,300 health and mental health services
  • MOM, DAUGHTER LOSE EVERYTHING TO WILDFIRES The wildfires have destroyed hundreds of homes. One woman described how the fire has changed her life.

    Sangchan Sprayberry, 62, moved to Mountain Ranch, California, less than three months ago and was preparing for retirement. As the wildfire neared her home, she and her 85-year-old mother, Noothin Bunraksa, had only minutes to get out of their house safely.

    ”It was about 4:00 a.m. and I felt like God woke me from a sound sleep,” Sprayberry said. “I looked outside and saw fire lighting up the sky. We left wearing pajamas and no shoes.”

    Once evacuated, the mother and daughter were welcomed into a Red Cross shelter in Valley Springs. Although the pair had the option of staying in a hotel, Bunraksa declined.

    “I love it here,” the older woman said. “The Red Cross people are so nice! I have my own bed, food, medical care and even a church (the shelter happens to be at Good Samaritan Church). We have everything we need here.”

    Sprayberry said while the fire has completely disrupted her life including her planned retirement, she feels fortunate. “I lost everything…my home, my car, my clothes and my possessions. But I am truly blessed,” she said. “We are lucky be alive and getting support from the Red Cross.”

    The Red Cross continues to provide shelter, food, and relief supplies for evacuees. Health services workers are helping to replace prescription medicines and provide other support.

    The uncertainty of whether residents will have homes to return to makes this an emotionally draining time for everyone involved. Red Cross mental health volunteers are available to help.

    In some areas where evacuation orders have been lifted, the Red Cross will begin distributing food and relief supplies as people begin to return home. In the coming days, the Red Cross will also begin to meet with individuals to help them plan their next steps and connect them with a variety of resources.

    DOWNLOAD EMERGENCY APP People can download the Red Cross Emergency App which contains information about what to do in case of wildfires and more. The app contains wildfire safety tips and users can set notifications for fire weather watches, red flag warnings, dense smoke advisories and air quality alerts. You can also use the “Family Safe” function to instantly contact loved ones. Users can find it in smartphone app stores by searching for the American Red Cross or going to redcross.org/apps.

    The Red Cross has also developed an interactive online map that people can use to learn about the size and scope of disasters such as the wildfires. The Red Cross “Map Journal” provides the following information:

  • Location and size of wildfires
  • Evacuation zones
  • Road Closures
  • Location, address and population of shelters
  • Where to take evacuated pets and animals (large and small)
  • Standard map elements such as counties, cities, roads, rivers and mountain ranges
  • Demographic information.
  • WILDFIRE SAFETY With critical fire weather continuing in the affected states, the Red Cross has safety steps people should follow if they live in an area where a wildfire is possible:

  • If a wildfire threatens, be ready to leave at a moment’s notice.
  • Listen to local radio and television stations for updated emergency information.
  • Always back your car into the garage or park it in an open space facing the direction of escape.
  • Confine pets to one room or spot so that you can find them if you need to evacuate quickly.
  • Arrange for temporary housing at a friend or relative’s home outside the threatened area.
  • Keep indoor air clean by closing windows and doors to prevent outside smoke from getting in.
  • Use the recycle or re-circulate mode on the air conditioner in your home or car.
  • When smoke levels are high, do not use anything that burns and adds to indoor air pollution, such as candles, fireplaces and gas stoves.
  • People can also get more wildfire safety information by visiting the wildfire safety section of this web site.

    HOW YOU CAN HELP Donations to the Red Cross are being used to provide help to people in need right now and will enable us continue providing help as communities recover. People can help by donating to Red Cross Disaster Relief by visiting redcross.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Donations to Disaster Relief will be used to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters big and small. We respond to nearly 70,000 other disasters every year, from home fires to wildfires and more. Learn more about how Disaster Relief donations have helped people affected by previous disasters including home fires.

    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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