Red Cross Responds to Communities’ Immediate Needs throughout Pacific Northwest Storms
PORTLAND, Ore., Dec. 11, 2015—This week’s storms throughout the Pacific Northwest have resulted in the Red Cross Cascades Region’s largest flood relief operation since 2007. More than 60 Red Cross disaster responders have been in storm-affected communities opening shelters, conducting damage assessment and providing information about recovery services. Storm activity came to a peak Thursday when Oregon Governor Kate Brown declared a state of emergency in 13 counties throughout the state and a tornado hit Battleground, Washington.
RED CROSS RESPONSE IN THE COMMUNITY
The heavy rains and winds have resulted in floods, landslides, mudslides and a tornado. Thousands have been without power, hundreds of roads have been closed and damages have left individuals and families displaced from their homes.
To meet individuals’ immediate disaster-caused needs, the Red Cross has opened six shelters throughout the storm. In Oregon, shelters have been opened in Vernonia, Clatskanie, Milwaukie and southeast Portland. In southwest Washington, they have been opened in Kelso and Woodland. These shelters have provided a warm and safe place to stay, meals and snacks, comfort kits, disaster health services and support, as well as updated information about the storms and resources for recovery. The shelter in Kelso remains open and the former Clatskanie shelter now serves as a reception center to provide community resources.
For some, the shelters have offered a safe place to go after floodwaters and landslides damaged their homes. For others, the shelters have been a refuge from the road.
Late Wednesday night, many travelers found themselves stuck after a landslide closed I-5 Northbound near Woodland. Three travelers, a family, found themselves forced off the freeway at Exit 21. Pasquale, Jennifer, and their daughter Sabrina make their living hauling cargo across the country for Wild Grizzly Transport. Stranded, they slept in their truck cab and awoke to a knock on their door Thursday morning. A Red Cross volunteer was offering them breakfast at Grace Presbyterian Church where the Red Cross shelter was located with cots, blankets, food, information and the conviviality of other stranded travelers. Jennifer, an artist, raised spirits at the shelter—and delighted some of the children—by making holiday decorations. Pasquale noted the shelter was full of great people and that the volunteers and staff made their delay getting home comfortable. Their story serves as a reminder that anyone can be impacted by a disaster and that the Red Cross is in communities when disasters strike.
The Red Cross continues its relief operations by conducting damage assessments in affected areas, opening shelters as needed and monitoring impacted areas to be ready to respond if called on by community partners.
RED CROSS COMMUNITY PREPAREDNESS
Pasquale and his family’s story reminds individuals of the importance to be prepared for the unexpected. Have an emergency kit ready to go in your car, in your office and at home. A few basic items, like non-perishable foods, water, flashlights, and extra batteries will go a long way should you experience a power outage, find yourself stuck at home for a period of time, stranded in your vehicle, or are forced to evacuate. Additionally, downloading the Red Cross Emergency App will give you up-to-date weather-related alerts, preparedness information and maps to Red Cross shelters during a disaster. Follow us on social media for more preparedness information:
The Red Cross is there whenever, wherever disasters strike thanks to the generous support of the local community. Financial contributions to the Red Cross train our local disaster responders, equip our emergency vehicles, preposition supplies, activate shelters, provide a safe place and warm meals for those in need, and help families begin their road to recovery through direct financial assistance and support. Donations to support the Red Cross Cascades Region, which serves Oregon and Southwest Washington, can be made online at www.redcross.org/cascades, by mail (P.O. Box 4125, Portland, OR 97208), or by phone: 1-800-RED-CROSS.