LUBBOCK, TEXAS — Phoenix Lundstrom, an American Red Cross South Plains Chapter volunteer and member of the Disaster Action Team, returned home July 12th from an emotional journey to Phoenix, Arizona where a devastating wildfire left thousands of acres burned and tragically took the lives of 19 firefighters.
Lundstrom deployed from Lubbock on July 4th to respond to the worst wildfire tragedy in Arizona history and the greatest loss of firefighters in a wildfire in the nation since 1933. The wildfire began in Yarnell, Arizona, about 90 miles northwest or Phoenix and 19 members of the Prescott-based Granite Mountain Hotshots died June 30th while battling the Yarnell Hill Fire.
Following the tragic event, the American Red Cross set up two shelters in Arizona – in Prescott and Wickenburg – for those forced to evacuate because of the fire. In addition, the Emergency Response Vehicle team, comprised of about 100 volunteers, divided into two efforts. One team provided assistance at the memorial wall, where over 200 feet of chain-link fence paid tribute to the fallen heroes. The second team, along with Lundstrom , went into Yarnell on the first day residents were allowed back to help distribute food, water and mental health assistance.
Lundstrom recounted her emotional journey in Arizona saying, “Seeing first-hand the devastation of the land in Yarnell and the emotional devastation in Prescott was overwhelming, and there was not a place in Prescott that I went where someone did not know one of the firefighters or they were a member of their family.”
Lundstrom, who has been a volunteer with the South Plains Chapter for over five years, spoke of the emotional presence the Red Cross had in the area and reflected on the importance of volunteering.
“I walked down the memorial wall and was overcome with emotion by everything that I saw,” Lundstrom said. “There were pictures, flowers, and so many emotional symbols that had been placed around the area all mourning the loss of the 19 elite firefighters.”
Lundstrom stressed there are plenty of ways a volunteer could get involved because there is always a need for people with many talents, backgrounds, and skill levels. There is always a need for assistance whether in the local community, or on a larger scale.
Volunteers constitute about 95 percent of the American Red Cross workforce and make it possible to respond to nearly 70,000 disasters every year. Find out more about the needs in your area or the variety of opportunities for Red Cross volunteers by visiting, redcross.org and click on the Ways to Help section.
The American Red Cross relies on its donors and volunteers to accomplish its mission. We are grateful for the support that helps us be ready to bring comfort and relief to those in need.
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 join our blog at http://blog.redcross.org.