More than ten days after the wildfires began in northern and southern California, thousands of people continue to deal with the devastation they left behind. The American Red Cross is there, providing shelter, food and comfort for people in need as the fires continue to burn.
Some 1,200 Red Cross disaster workers, including nearly a dozen from Eastern Pennsylvania, are providing help and support at evacuation centers to offer safe refuge for people impacted by these devastating fires.
These disaster workers include Adrian Grieve of Wyomissing, Berks County, who arrives in northern California today to head up the national mass casualty response team. Disasters are upsetting experiences for everyone involved—especially when they cause such massive devastation so close to the holidays.
The death toll from the wildfires now stands at 80 with nearly 1,000 still listed as missing. Grieve will work with Red Cross disaster mental health and spiritual care volunteers, including a couple from the Poconos, to help Californians cope with the devastation and loss of life.
In total, the local Red Cross has sent 11 disaster workers to California so far. In addition to Grieve, two Lehigh Valley volunteers are there, along with three from Southeastern Pennsylvania and five from Northeastern Pennsylvania and the Poconos.
Overnight, more than 1,000 people sought refuge from the wildfires in 15 Red Cross and community evacuation centers across the state. Working with partners, the Red Cross has served more than 61,200 meals and snacks. Volunteer mental health, health and spiritual care professionals have provided more than 18,800 contacts to provide support and care to evacuees. The Red Cross has also distributed more than 16,300 relief items for people forced from their homes.
HOW YOU CAN HELP Entire communities and families have been left reeling from these deadly wildfires. Help people affected by the California wildfires by visiting redcross.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS or texting the word CAWILDFIRES to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Donations enable the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from these disasters.
FINDING LOVED ONES People continue to search for missing loved ones and Red Cross reunification services are helping reconnect them as quickly as possible. These services include helping people communicate through the Red Cross Safe and Well website, as well as helping with urgent requests involving unaccompanied minors and separated children, reestablishing contact with family members who have been separated within the disaster area and working with partners to resolve reunification-related inquiries. There have been just over 8,200 Safe and Well registrations for the wildfires, as many as 80,700 searches, and more than 1,900 matches through Safe and Well.
If someone is looking for loved ones they can visit the Red Cross Safe and Well website at http://www.redcross.org/safeandwell. The site allows individuals and organizations to register and post messages to indicate that they are safe, or to search for loved ones. The site is always available, open to the public and available in Spanish. Registrations and searches can be done directly on the website.
People can also use the “I’m Safe” feature of the Red Cross Emergency App to let loved ones know their status. The Emergency App is available in app stores by searching for the American Red Cross or going to redcross.org/apps.
About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or cruzrojaamericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.