Wednesday, April 5, 2017, 10 a.m.
American Red Cross of the Bay Area responded the morning of Monday, March 25th to the deadly apartment fire on San Pablo Ave in West Oakland. Red Cross volunteers were on the scene canteening 100 firefighters and offering help to the survivors and the families of the victims of a deadly apartment fire in Oakland at an evacuation center throughout the day.
The comprehensive one-stop Local Assistance Center opened Tuesday, April 4th at 270 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza for impacted residents. At the assistance center, numerous agencies and nonprofits, including the Red Cross, will be present to continue to provide case management and ongoing assistance, resources and referrals to meet the many needs of these residents. The Center will be open through Friday, April 7 from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Red Cross caseworkers are meeting with each family one-on-one to provide individual recovery planning, referrals to other resources, and if qualified, financial assistance. To date, 116 households have opened cases with the Red Cross.
Since March 25th, the Red Cross shelter at the West Oakland Youth Center provided 209 overnight stays for those impacted by this fire. Food was provided at the shelter through a partnership with the Salvation Army. 1,505 meals and snacks were served. City of Oakland and Alameda County Social Services staff in partnership with trained Red Cross mental health workers provided emotional support.
The City of Oakland is working with all of the displaced residents — those who have been using the temporary shelter which closed Wednesday, April 5, 2017; those who were able to be placed in alternative short-term housing; and those who were able to make other arrangements — to find longer-term interim and/or permanent housing. This includes a range of options based on the specific health needs, family composition and ability to meet eligibility criteria of public and private housing providers in the area who have been identified or volunteered to assist. As an example, in some instances families who qualify have been moved into other facilities, in other cases, beds reserved for fire victims have been offered in already existing permanent shelters as a mid-term solution.
Red Cross continues to work closely with government and community partners to coordinate efforts to meet the long term needs of the impacted residents.
IN-KIND GOODS DONATIONS
We know the local community is generous and wants to do everything it can to help after this tragic fire. Unfortunately, collecting and sending food, clothing and other household items often does more harm than good. It takes time and money to store, sort, clean and distribute donated items, which diverts limited time and resources away from helping those most affected. We strongly encourage people who want to support disaster victims to make a financial donation.
The Red Cross relies on donations to help disaster victims. You can help people affected by disasters like apartment fires and countless other crises by making a gift to Red Cross Disaster Relief. To donate, people can visit www.redcross.org, 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.
We are currently able to provide support to this fire with our local volunteer team. An average of 90% of Red Cross workers are local volunteers. To volunteer with future response efforts, please applying online, tinyurl.com/RedCrossNorCal, 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. To see photos that include the volunteer response, please see the Red Cross Bay Area's Flickr site.
The Red Cross recommends two easy steps to help protect your home and loved ones from a fire: get a smoke alarm and create a fire escape plan.
• Working smoke alarms reduce the risk of fatal home fires by half according to the National Fire Protection Association
• Place smoke alarms on every level of your home, including bedrooms
• Test smoke alarms once a month and replace batteries at least once a year
• Having a plan in place can help you escape, including at least two ways to escape from every room of your home and a meeting spot at a safe distance from your home
• Discuss the plan with everyone in the household and practice it at least twice a year
• For more Red Cross fire safety and preparedness information, visit, redcross.org/homefires.
About the photo: Two Red Cross workers, right, are pictured with Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf and a local woman who was supported after the fire. (Photo by: Kane Wong)