Responding to Wildfires, Home Fires and Campus Shooting in June

Powerhouse Fire Marie Curr Shelter
“Between January and the end of June 2013, we have responded to more than 180 disasters across the Los Angeles Region." - Alex Rose, Disaster Action Team Program Coordinator

In the first six months of 2013, the Red Cross Los Angeles Region assisted individuals and families at more than 180 disasters across the Southland. Hundreds of well trained, on-call Disaster Action Team (DAT) volunteers were on the front lines providing food, shelter and comfort to local disaster victims.

The 21 incidents in the month of June - including the Powerhouse Wildfire near Angeles National Forest, a large apartment fire in Hollywood, and a shooting at Santa Monica College - are indicative of the types of disasters local Red Cross volunteers respond to on a regular basis.

Wildfires Begin Early This Year

In early June, Red Cross disaster volunteers worked around the clock for seven days operating a shelter at Marie Kerr Park in Palmdale, which served residents who were forced to evacuate because of the Powerhouse Wildfire. The fire destroyed 30 homes and damaged 50 square miles just north of Santa Clarita.

Bilingual Volunteers Connect with Clients

During that same period, the Red Cross opened a shelter at Helen Bernstein High School in Hollywood after a 16-unit apartment building went up in flames. The Los Angeles Fire Department reached out to the Red Cross, which provided assistance to the approximately 40 displaced tenants. Since most of the clients did not speak English, the Red Cross sent bilingual disaster responders.

“About half of the tenants were Spanish speaking, so those of us who are fluent in Spanish were able to better assist the clients when we arrived at the site,” said Disaster Action Team responder Francisca Herrera.

The shelter was also open for seven days, and disaster volunteers, including Red Cross Client Caseworkers helped clients identify appropriate resources to aid in their recovery.

Across town, on Sat., June 23, a Disaster Action Team was deployed to a home in Monterey Park where there was major structural damage due to a devastating fire. With the help of volunteer translators, another Red Cross shelter was opened at Barnes Park and Recreation Center to aid the residents who lost their home. A total of 12 people, all of whom spoke Mandarin Chinese, spent the night on Saturday and were provided food to eat, a safe place to stay, emotional support and assistance for beginning their recovery.

Red Cross Delivers Support during Lockdown at Santa Monica College

The Red Cross also supported first responders and innocent bystanders during the dramatic incident at Santa Monica College where a masked gunman shot a number of individuals at the school and in the surrounding neighborhood.

At the City of Santa Monica’s request, the Red Cross provided the first responders with a Red Cross canteen including food and drinks. The Red Cross distributed hundreds of Subway sandwiches to first responders. In addition, Disaster Mental Health workers were on-hand to provide blankets and emotional support to people who were displaced.