SAN DIEGO- May 13, 2015 – The American Red Cross of San Diego/Imperial Counties reflects on the one-year anniversary of the widespread wildfires that devastated communities throughout San Diego County in May 2014.
The Red Cross responded to the immediate needs of thousands of evacuees and first responders during the Bernardo Fire, Cocos Fire and Poinsettia Fire as well as the Las Pulgas and Tomahawk Fires on Camp Pendleton.
In the days and weeks following the initial spark on May 13, 2014, the Red Cross provided much-needed support and emergency disaster relief. Hundreds sought refuge in Red Cross shelters where basic human needs were provided: a safe place to stay, food, clothing, emotional support and health services. Outreach teams consisting of caseworkers, health professionals and mental health workers met with families in affected communities to help them cope with the devastation and connect them to resources. The Red Cross also provided clean up supplies like masks, shovels, buckets and work gloves, as well as boxes of food for those returning home. Overall, the Red Cross:
- Operated four shelters and had nearly 10 fixed feeding sites and Temporary Evacuation Points during the immediate response.
- Served nearly 8,000 meals and snacks.
- Provided more than 500 overnight shelter stays.
- Activated three emergency response vehicles.
- Made over 1,300 health and mental health contacts.
- Distributed more than 300 relief items.
- Deployed more than 285 Red Cross workers.
“While the shelters have long closed, the American Red Cross response continues,” said Bill Earley, Chief Executive Officer of the Red Cross of San Diego/Imperial Counties. “Disaster recovery is often measured in months and years, and the Red Cross is here to provide hope, comfort and personally tailored support during this time.”
THE WORK OF RECOVERY CONTINUES
In addition to immediate relief, the Red Cross provides longer-term help to people recovering from a disaster. Trained caseworkers continue to meet one-on-one with those affected to offer personal support as they continue the recovery process.
“Recovering from a disaster can be a confusing, emotionally draining and complex process,” said Susy Turnbull, Regional Disaster Officer for the local Red Cross and job director for the agency’s response in 2014. “Our caseworkers meet one-on-one with people to create recovery plans, navigate paperwork and locate help from other agencies. In some situations, and as is the case here, we provide direct financial support to people.”
The Red Cross continues to work with several community partners to ensure needs are met. This was also done throughout the month of April in the form of Local Assistance Centers for fire survivors. Local Assistance Centers provide a “one-stop-shop” of resources and information for the fire survivors. To date, the Red Cross has provided long-term recovery support for 32 clients in need, totaling over $70,000.
HOW TO GET HELP
For those who experienced loss in the May 2014 wildfires and have not opened a case with the Red Cross, please call 858-309-1338. The Red Cross works closely with other community partners, including the local San Diego Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD) group, to ensure all client needs are met and assist them through their recovery journey. The information compiled by Red Cross helps clients receive the best, most effective assistance possible to get them back on their feet. At the one year marker, the Red Cross has opened 139 cases for those who were affected by last year’s wildfires.
The Red Cross’ disaster recovery work also helps ensure communities are better prepared for the next emergency. More information about how to prepare should a wildfire threaten your community is available on the following Red Cross websites – www.preparesandiego.org or www.redcross.org/sandiego. The Red Cross also recommends downloading the Red Cross Emergency App for wildfire alerts, safety info, and to find Red Cross shelters near you in the event of an emergency.
About the American Red Cross of San Diego/Imperial Counties
The American Red Cross of San Diego/Imperial Counties is the most trusted community service organization in education, preparation and response to natural disasters and human emergencies. With the public’s ongoing support we provide lifesaving preparedness training; disaster relief services; services to deployed military personnel and their families; and nutritional counseling through our Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program. Through Prepare San Diego, a four-year regional resiliency initiative, the Red Cross brings together key community and business leaders from the region to create a sustainable network that encourages preparedness, carries out response and recovery plans, and strives for resiliency in the face of disaster, meeting all aspects of the disaster lifecycle. 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/sandiego or connect with us on Facebook and YouTube and Twitter.