“I’m a disabled veteran and my animals are everything.
Evacuees of the Eagle Creek fire are expressing their appreciation for the accommodations provided for them by the Red Cross. Many emergency shelter residents were glad that their special needs were met, as well as their ability to have their pets and service animals accompany them.
One evacuee that took refuge in the Red Cross shelter is Jose “Joe” Bailey, Sr. Bailey is a disabled veteran who depends upon his two service dogs to assist him in his daily life. So it was important for them to be able stay with him. He said that burning embers were falling around him as he was hooking up his trailer to evacuate. Still his concern was for his dogs.
“I have two service dogs, one of which is in training,” he said. “I’m a disabled veteran and my animals are everything.” His dogs, Bonnie Blue Bell and Remington, were able to remain with him in the shelter. “I’m so grateful that I could have my service dogs here with me,” he said. “If it wasn’t for these two, I don’t know where I’d be now.”
Another evacuee, Lauren, appreciated the amenities provided by the Red Cross at the shelter. “The shelter was great – offering toiletries and food. I really liked having showers there, and also everyone was very friendly and quick with a smile.” she said. “When I drove up, people waved to me. And it was really reassuring to have law enforcement nearby.”
Lauren was thankful to have counselors available at the shelter to talk to. “I’ was given emotional support. The counselors came around and they were wonderful,” she said. "I was previously in a house fire so this really was a trigger for me. It was difficult.”
Lauren found comfort among other evacuees at the shelter. “It’s important to have emotional support and to share stories with others,” she said. “I found people there who I could commiserate with because we were all going through the same things, and we were all from small towns neighboring each other. We could share stories and have a few laughs.”
Most of all, Lauren was grateful that her two cats were able to stay with her in the shelter. “My cats, Le Chat and Pishi, really were comfortable there and it was great to see the Red Cross partner with the Southwest Washington Humane Society.” she said. “I got up every morning and went to work, so it was really a blessing to be able to have my animals here with me. They are my link to everything – they are family.”
Evacuee Sally King said her mother used to be a nurse for the Red Cross. She came to the shelter with her three dogs and her friend Tracy. “I have health issues, so the Red Cross was completely accommodating,” she said. “They gave me a special bed, and they gave me a comfortable wheelchair.” She said nurses came by frequently to check her blood pressure. “I was really impressed with all the things available, including hygiene products and food,” she said. “We even had food from a number of wonderful restaurants.”
King appreciates Red Cross donors who have given to help people in crisis situations such as the Eagle Creek fire. “I know a lot of people have donated money to help the fire victims. I believe it is money worth spending,” she said. “Everyone there was very caring, wonderful and loving. I can’t say enough good things about the Red Cross and my experience at the shelter.”