The American Red Cross Southern California Region has volunteers on the ground helping people in need across multiple states after a busy month of disasters. From the devastating wildfires in Hawaii, to Tropical Storm Hilary in Southern California and additional disasters across our Region and nation, our volunteers are doing what they do best: providing compassionate care to those in need. Read on to learn more about our disaster responses during the month of August.
Desert Hot Springs Multi-Family Fire
In late July and early August, our Southern California Region helped those impacted by a multi-family home fire at Country Squire RV and Mobile Home Park in Desert Hot Springs. We opened a shelter at Desert Hot Springs High School to support those evacuated from the fire. Alongside community partners, we provided more than 80 evacuees with shelter, food, mental health and health services and casework. Our team also supported a Local Assistance Center which makes it as easy as possible for residents to start their recovery process by giving them one place to receive help and information from numerous agencies.
Hawaii Wildfires Response
In early August, several wildfires broke out on the Hawaiian Islands of Maui and the Big Island. The Red Cross continues to work tirelessly to deliver compassionate and equitable care to the many who are picking up the pieces. The people of Maui have been through incredible trauma and devastation. Our work in Hawaii is just beginning. Together, the Red Cross and the county government are providing overnight emergency shelter and hotel stays on Maui and Oahu. The Red Cross is supporting these families and individuals throughout their hotel stays with meals, casework and emotional support.
More than 720 trained Red Cross volunteers nationwide have deployed to Hawaii or helped virtually, including 13 individuals from our Southern California Region.
Our Regional CEO Sean Mahoney deployed to Hawaii for more than a week before coming back to San Diego to assist with Tropical Storm Hilary affecting our region.
Volunteers like Georgia Duncan from San Bernardino County is one of more than 80 Red Cross volunteers who have responded to calls through our National Call Center and helped collect vital information from families trying to locate their missing loved ones. Sadly, hundreds of people remain missing following the wildfires in Hawaii. Our reunification teams are addressing several thousand requests since the fires started and working nonstop to help comfort and support families during this emotional time. Georgia’s husband, Chuck Duncan, is supporting feeding operations.
Amy Diaz from our Southern California Region is serving as the Service to the Armed Forces liaison officer and is helping provide Red Cross services to military members, veterans and their families. She shares, "It's been an honor to work alongside our Red Cross teammates from all over the country to support survivors of the Lahaina fires. Everyone is running around day and night to help out the people impacted. It's truly inspiring what a team can do if we come together to support one mission."
On August 17, the Coyote Fire broke out in Potrero in San Diego County. Red Cross volunteers worked alongside community partners to open a shelter at Mountain Empire High School in Pine Valley to support evacuees. Our team provided a safe place to stay, food, disaster health and mental health services. Fortunately, evacuation orders were lifted just two days after the start of the fire and residents were able to return home.
Tropical Storm Hilary
On August 20, Tropical Strom Hilary made landfall, making it the first tropical storm to hit California in the last 80 years. Red Cross disaster teams opened more than a dozen emergency shelters in California, Arizona and Nevada after Tropical Storm Hilary’s heavy rain caused flooding, power outages and numerous rockslides. Nearly 200 volunteers from Southern California and across the nation helped those impacted by the storm. Evacuees were provided with a safe place to stay, meals and other resources. With the immediate needs of those staying in shelters being met, all Red Cross shelters opened in response to Tropical Storm have now closed. Our caseworkers and damage assessment teams continue to support those affected.
David Foust volunteered at our shelter at Redlands East Valley High School during the storm. He shared, “Volunteering at the shelter is hard work but it is instantly rewarding when you see the gratitude of families and individuals impacted for the efforts we are making to help them have a safe place to stay until the storm passes."
Hurricane Idalia Response
On August 30, Hurricane Idalia made landfall in Florida as a Category 3 storm with destructive winds and a dangerous storm surge. Idalia was then downgraded to a tropical storm and moved through Georgia and the Carolinas.
In advance of Idalia, the Red Cross mobilized more than 500 disaster responders to help, along with 45 specialty response vehicles and truckloads of supplies. This includes technology equipment, some 100,000 ready-to-eat meals and enough shelter supplies to support 20,000 individuals. Additional volunteers and emergency supplies are on standby in case they are needed. Gregory Begalla from the Red Cross Riverside County Chapter deployed to assist with shelter operations and more volunteers from Southern California remain on standby ready to assist.
As conditions improve and roads are opened, Red Cross disaster responders will begin to circulate throughout affected communities to assess the damage assessment. This information will help inform operational decisions about where to focus our services in the coming days.
We’re grateful for our Red Cross volunteers and community partners who helped everyone in need on disaster assistance during the month of August. To learn more about our disaster responses, click the links below.