Williams’ house was one of 64 lost in the Clearwater Complex fires of 2015. She was in a caravan of people fleeing when she pulled over to ask a state trooper where they were bound.
You can go anywhere, he said, but be advised the Red Cross has a shelter set up.
She found a night’s shelter there, and they connected her with pasture for her miniature donkeys.
When she retired in 2017, she joined the Red Cross and now volunteers 20-30 hours many weeks. She’s very involved with smoke alarm installation (almost 400 and counting!) and is a pillowcase project instructor.
And with the recent flooding, she put her training in assessments into action for the first time.
“There were a lot of firsts,” she said.
She also was part of her first, a Multi Agency Resource Center, where agencies and nonprofits meet under one roof so those affected have a one-stop shop to connect with resources to help them get back on their feet.
And, she helped operate the Red Cross shelter, finding herself on the other side of the helping hand this time.
“From the time they ordered the shelter to set up was five hours,” she said. “Normally we could have done it in four, but we had a mudslide to contend with.”
No one slept at the shelter, but people came for food, supplies, referrals, advice and comfort.
Autumn St. Amand was driving the emergency response vehicle down U.S. Highway 12 when she encountered a road blocked by a mudslide.
The sheriff decided the need for Red Cross services was so great that they cleared the way for her, just enough.
Williams was only just back from Montana and training in West Yellowstone when the call came that “We’re going to have a problem here today,” she said. “It just carried on from there.”
— Story by Red Cross writing team volunteer Kristen Inbody