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WASHINGTON D.C. – June 27, 2016 — Hundreds of American Red Cross volunteers are helping people affected by devastating and historic flooding in West Virginia and fast-moving wildfires in California, which collectively have destroyed hundreds of homes and forced thousands of residents to seek shelter elsewhere.
Nearly 300 people spent Sunday night in Red Cross and community shelters in the two affected states. Red Cross volunteers are also serving meals, distributing relief supplies and providing health services and emotional and mental health support. Going forward, Red Cross caseworkers will also be meeting with individuals to help them plan their next steps to move out of shelters through the provision of one-on-one support and guidance. Every day, we continue to monitor the affected areas in these two states, and will deploy more help to the affected areas, as needed – to include volunteers and emergency vehicles. The Red Cross is also coordinating very closely with partners like the Southern Baptist Convention and AmeriCorps to lend a hand, and help to manage and coordinate the many resources needed to support disasters of this scope and scale.
“The lives of thousands of people have been turned upside down by deadly floods and wildfires, and Red Cross volunteers are there to provide comfort and support, while making sure they have a safe place to stay and food to eat,” said Brad Kieserman, vice president, Disaster Services Operations and Logistics for the Red Cross. “Our relief efforts are just beginning, and we will be there in the coming days and weeks supporting people affected by these tragic disasters as they begin to recover and rebuild.”
HOW TO HELP These are large and complex relief responses and the Red Cross needs the public’s support now. Those who would like to help the Red Cross support people affected by disasters like flooding, wildfires and countless other crises can make a donation to Red Cross Disaster Relief. People can donate by visiting redcross.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. These donations enable the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters big and small.
While we appreciate the good intentions of people who want to donate material items, the Red Cross does not have the infrastructure to support the vetting and distribution of these items during a disaster response. Therefore, financial donations are the quickest and best way to get help to the people who need it most. For those who still wish to donate clothes or household items, the Red Cross has partnered with:In California, please go to Goodwill Industries of South Central CaliforniaIn West Virginia, please reach out to a local charitable organization nearest to you
WEST VIRGINIA More rain is expected today, which could slow recovery work in West Virginia. Initial reports indicate hundreds of homes either damaged or destroyed and the numbers could go up as more areas are able to be accessed. Thousands of people are still without power and gas service. The Red Cross is working closely with state and local officials and partners to help ensure people get the help they need. Important Red Cross flood safety information is found here.
CALIFORNIA The Erskine Fire in Kern County has consumed more than 43,000 areas, forcing residents of 2,500 homes to evacuate. As many as 250 homes are destroyed and the fire is threatening an additional 2,500 homes. Red Cross workers have shelters open and are providing food and relief supplies, along with health services and helping people cope with a very difficult situation. People in the path of the fire can find vital safety information here.
DOWNLOAD EMERGENCY APP People should download the free Red Cross Emergency App to receive emergency alerts and information about what to do in case of flooding, wildfires and other disasters, as well as locations of shelters. The App also includes emergency first aid information and a Family Safe feature which allows people to instantly see if loved ones are okay. The free Emergency App is available in app stores by searching for the American Red Cross or going to redcross.org/apps.
Contact: Public Affairs Desk, Telephone: (202) 303-5551, FOR MEDIA ONLY