Red Cross Prepares for Black Forest Fire Recovery Operations

Red Cross Colorado Springs Disaster Assistance Team Planning
Our hearts are just breaking for this community. Colorado Springs already experienced the trauma of a devastating disaster last year, and now they are coming to terms with this overwhelming loss.

COLORADO SPRINGS, COLO., June 16, 2013, 11 a.m. – The American Red Cross continues to operate a shelter for evacuees of the Black Forest while making preparations to help residents as they return to their neighborhoods and face the long road to recovery.

Last night, 32 evacuated individuals stayed overnight at the Red Cross shelters at Palmer Ridge High School; yesterday, the Red Cross closed shelters at the Elbert County Fairgrounds and University of Colorado Colorado Springs Recreation Center in response to minimal need for the shelters.

Meanwhile, the Red Cross will continue to staff a station at the multi-agency Disaster Assistance Center, where residents can access safety guidance about returning to their homes, recovery information and resources, comfort kits, grief counseling, and more.

The Red Cross is also preparing supplies and volunteer forces to be ready to assist residents later this week as they return to their neighborhoods and start the initial steps of recovering from this disaster. Due to the large loss of property – following on the heels of last year’s Waldo Canyon Fire – health and mental health support is a priority; the Red Cross has received more than 1,000 volunteer applications since the Black Forest Fire began, and will be holding several trainings this week to on-board new, licensed health and mental health workers who have applied to volunteer with the Red Cross.

“Our hearts are just breaking for this community. Colorado Springs already experienced the trauma of a devastating disaster last year, and now they are coming to terms with this overwhelming loss. We are vastly expanding our mental health forces through partnerships and bringing on new volunteers so that we can have experts widely available to provide comfort and help residents through this difficult time,” said Jaici Murcia, Regional Disaster Services Director for the Red Cross in Colorado.

Media are encouraged to share the following recovery resources with the community:

  • Red Cross Guide to Recovery: http://www.redcross.org/images/MEDIA_CustomProductCatalog/m7540319_picking-up-the-pieces-A5076.pdf
  • Helping Children Cope With Disaster: http://www.redcross.org/images/MEDIA_CustomProductCatalog/m14740413_Helping_children_cope_with_disaster_-_English.pdf
  • RED CROSS SERVICE STATS TO-DATE

    Since a series of wildfires fires broke out earlier this week through 5 p.m. last night, nearly 1,000 people have registered at Red Cross shelters and Red Cross volunteers and partners have:

  • Opened and operated a total of eight separate shelters and evacuation centers in Monument, Colorado Springs, Kiowa, Cañon City, Walsenburg and Rifle (one remains open as of 9 a.m. today)
  • Distributed 825 comfort kits containing hygiene items, toothbrushes and other basic essentials
  • Registered 374 individuals in Safe and Well
  • Served 3,865 meals and snacks (provided primarily by The Salvation Army)
  • Made 226 health and mental health contacts with affected residents
  • Distributed 100 Jumpstart To Recovery Kits
  • HOW TO HELP: The Red Cross provides disaster relief to people completely free of charge, and is able to do so through the hard work of volunteers and the generosity of the public. We thank the public throughout Colorado for their generous support. If you would like to support Red Cross Disaster Relief go to redcross.org/Colorado, call 1-800-REDCROSS or text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation via your cell phone bill.

    Note: Donations made via text-to-give WILL be allocated to support Red Cross 2013 Colorado Wildfires Response.

    IN-KIND DONATIONS: The Red Cross is unable to accept small, individual donations or collections of items such as clothing, food or cleaning supplies. The cost to sort, package and distribute these types of donations to disaster victims is almost always greater than the cost of purchasing the items locally, and it is logistically impossible to distribute a wide variety of individual items in a meaningful way.

    VOLUNTEERING: The Red Cross relies on a trained workforce of volunteers to provide emergency assistance. We currently have enough volunteer staff to meet our operational needs and have received more than 1,000 applications from new volunteers. If you would like to apply to volunteer with the Red Cross, visit http://www.redcross.org/co/denver/volunteer and fill out an application; please be patient, as current volume of applicants is extremely high.

    Individuals interested in other volunteer opportunities can also visit www.helpcoloradonow.org to browse other opportunities.

    About the American Red Cross:

    The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies nearly half of the nation's blood; teaches lifesaving skills; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a charitable organization — not a government agency — and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit www.redcross.org or join our blog at http://blog.redcross.org.