Santa Cruz, CA (August 24, 2015) – Today, American Red Cross of the Central Coast volunteer Stephen Purcell is being deployed to Washington as shelter supervisor to provide disaster relief to those affected by the severe wildfires that have impacted the state. Stephen returned only a week ago after serving as a shelter worker in Lake County, assisting the many evacuated residents due to the Rocky Fire and then the Jerusalem Fire.
As scores of fires burn across the West, Red Cross disaster teams are working hand-in-hand with firefighters and first responders to deliver hope and help to people in impacted areas. Through shelters and emergency response vehicles circulating impacted areas, Red Cross workers are serving meals, distributing relief supplies and sharing community relief information to assist with response efforts. In Washington, Red Crossers are operating eight shelters in impacted areas where 100 people spent Saturday evening. Fire conditions continue to be volatile and fluid. As mandatory evacuations are announced, Red Cross disaster teams are re-adjusting service delivery and relief resources to serve communities in need. To date in Washington, the Red Cross has:
• Provided more than 225 overnight stays,
• Served more than 2,600 meals and snacks and 160 comfort kits, including personal hygiene items and
• Met one-on-one with impacted individuals and families to provide relief and recovery information as well as mental health support services for those in need.
Red Cross teams in Oregon, Idaho, Montana and California are also operating shelters, serving meals and distributing relief supplies to assist those impacted by raging wildfires. To address emotional and mental health needs, trained Red Cross caseworkers are providing much needed services for individuals and families impacted by these disasters. Red Cross disaster mental health team members are masters-level professionals, including psychologists, social workers and counselors, licensed to the highest level in their state, with additional training specifically in disaster mental health. These team members are available to help people deal with the intensity of the disaster and help them connect with additional resources within their community.
As droughts continue and fires spread, the Red Cross will continue to work within communities to provide the needed resources to help people respond and recover from wildfires – even after the smoke clears.
People in the path of typhoons, wildfires, storms and other severe weather should download the Red Cross Emergency App for real time access to weather alerts, preparedness information, safety tips and shelter locations. The Emergency App provides expert advice on what to do during floods, tornadoes, wildfires and other disasters. The app also provides lifesaving information on emergency first aid for various situations such as what to do for heart attacks, heat-related emergencies and includes water safety tips. Pre-loaded content ensures that guidance from Red Cross experts is available anytime, anywhere – even without mobile connectivity. The Emergency App is available for free in app stores for smartphones and tablets and can also be found by searching for American Red Cross or by going to redcross.org/apps.
Wildfires spread quickly, igniting brush, trees and homes. The Red Cross urges residents to follow all evacuation orders from local enforcement and be prepared. All families should have an emergency game plan for disasters large and small. Some basic wildfire safety tips are:
- Be ready to leave at a moment’s notice.
- Listen to local radio and television stations for updated emergency information.
- Back cars into driveways or park in open spaces facing the direction of escape.
- Confine pets to one room so that you can find them if you need to evacuate quickly.
A donation to Red Cross Disaster Relief can help provide shelter for someone who has had to leave their home and food and water for them to eat. Help people affected by disasters like wildfires and countless other crises by making a gift to Red Cross Disaster Relief. Your gift enables the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters big and small. To donate, people can visit www.redcross.org, call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.
BECOME A VOLUNTEER
An average of 90% of Red Cross workers are volunteers. By empowering individuals to help their neighbors when they need it most, we strengthen our community and make it more resilient to disasters large and small. If you are interested in volunteering with the American Red Cross, visit www.redcross.org/volunteer.