Hundreds of American Red Cross volunteers are helping people affected by devastating and historic flooding in West Virginia and fast-moving wildfires in California, which collectively have destroyed hundreds of homes and forced thousands of residents to seek shelter elsewhere.
“The lives of thousands of people have been turned upside down by deadly floods and wildfires, and Red Cross volunteers, including our inspiring volunteers from Hawaii, who left their families to travel across the country, are there to provide comfort and support, while making sure they have a safe place to stay and food to eat,” said Coralie Chun Matayoshi, CEO of the Hawaii Red Cross.
An Oahu volunteer, Ryan Yamane is deploying to California in response to the wildfires on Wednesday evening and will be assisting with disaster mental health.
In addition, a total of three Hawaii Red Cross volunteers have deployed to West Virginia in response to the devastating floods. Oahu volunteers Penny Lindsey and Renise Bayne are assisting with logistics and casework, respectively and Kauai volunteer, William Butler is assisting with community partnerships.
“I decided to accept deployment to West Virginia because of the devastation on the news,” said Oahu Red Cross Volunteer, Renise Bayne. “There were numerous reports of counties needing help and I wanted to be part of the solution… The people of West Virginia are in shock and awe that Hawaii is here to extend help, love and hugs.”
RED CROSS RESPONSE Nearly 300 people spent Sunday night in Red Cross and community shelters in the two affected states. Red Cross volunteers are also serving meals, distributing relief supplies and providing health services and emotional and mental health support. Going forward, Red Cross caseworkers will also be meeting with individuals to help them plan their next steps to move out of shelters through the provision of one-on-one support and guidance. Every day, we continue to monitor the affected areas in these two states, and will deploy more help to the affected areas, as needed – to include volunteers and emergency vehicles. The Red Cross is also coordinating very closely with partners like the Southern Baptist Convention and AmeriCorps to lend a hand, and help to manage and coordinate the many resources needed to support disasters of this scope and scale.
WEST VIRGINIA More rain is expected today, which could slow recovery work in West Virginia. Initial reports indicate hundreds of homes either damaged or destroyed and the numbers could go up as more areas are able to be accessed. Thousands of people are still without power and gas service. The Red Cross is working closely with state and local officials and partners to help ensure people get the help they need.
CALIFORNIA The Erskine Fire in Kern County has consumed more than 43,000 areas, forcing residents of 2,500 homes to evacuate. As many as 250 homes are destroyed and the fire is threatening an additional 2,500 homes. Red Cross workers have shelters open and are providing food and relief supplies, along with health services and helping people cope with a very difficult situation.
HOW TO HELP These are large and complex relief responses and the Red Cross needs the public’s support now. Those who would like to help the Red Cross support people affected by disasters like flooding, wildfires and countless other crises can make a donation to Red Cross Disaster Relief. People can donate by visiting redcross.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. These donations enable the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters big and small.