By Dana Simmons, American Red Cross intern
Nancy and Merrill Woods -along with their son, future daughter-in-law and their three dogs- evacuated their home in Forest Falls on Saturday, September 5. They moved into their home just two months earlier, and while they also had a scare with the nearby Apple Fire in August, the El Dorado Fire was their first mandatory evacuation. After hearing helicopters announce evacuation orders, Nancy and Merrill quickly gathered photo albums, passports, clothes and their three dogs, and evacuated their neighborhood.
Nancy and Merrill originally found a dog-friendly hotel for two nights by themselves, but once they realized their evacuation would be long term, they reached out to the American Red Cross Southern California Region for help. Red Cross volunteers worked with Nancy and Merrill and provided the family -including three dogs- a safe place to stay, daily meals and wellness checks, and more, which Nancy says “is more than we ever expected.”
The Red Cross has provided hundreds of emergency lodging hotel stays and over 20,000 meals and snacks for those affected by the El Dorado Fire and Valley Fire in Southern California.
Nancy and Merrill’s employers have been understanding and accommodating during the wildfire. Nancy and Merrill took turns going to work so one of them could always be with the dogs at the hotel. The Home Depot, where Nancy works, even supported local Red Cross disaster relief efforts by donating cases of water for evacuees.
Between the Red Cross giving her family a safe place to stay and food to eat and the Home Depot giving back to the Red Cross, Nancy says that this experience has been “so humbling and satisfying.”
Despite the uncertainty in Nancy’s community, she remains hopeful that her family will be able to return home soon and she is already seeking ways to help in the future. “I know that a lot of us who have been displaced, especially at Forest Falls, have been so humbled by this experience,” says Nancy. “We want to find out how we can volunteer in the future.”
To help those affected by disasters like the El Dorado Fire, the Valley Fire and other emergencies, visit redcross.org/donate. You can also make an impact as a Red Cross volunteer. Visit redcross.org/volunteer for more information or to apply.