By Michele Maki, American Red Cross
Please, close your eyes for a moment and imagine: You have just returned to what used to be your beloved home. Ash. That is all that is left. Ash. You sift through it, hoping to recover something recognizable. You recall how quickly the fire raced through your community. Literally running for your life, with nothing but the clothes on your back. A feeling of overwhelming sadness grips your heart. Tears start to flow. Yes, you’re grateful to be alive, but all that is familiar…..all that was “home” is gone. Where and how do you start over? How does anyone recover from this kind of tragedy?
Kathleen Harmon, Executive Director for Community Foundation of Amador County knows this story. She has comforted and listened to many in her community share just this kind of horror. “Many in our community have few resources to recover for this kind of tragedy. That is why I’m so grateful for the help the American Red Cross has given us. They have provided us with the resources to address the immediate needs of those affected. We know the Red Cross will partner with our foundation and our other community agencies to help us build a firm road to recovery.”
But Harmon knows there is more work to be done. “The Red Cross message of “Prevent, Prepare and Stay Informed” will help our community navigate the future. We know this will not be the last disaster we face. We need to do all we can to help prevent the next disaster. We need to prepare and we need to be informed. We need to clear, realistic expectations from each of us in this partnership. We all have a part to play.”
The Community Foundation of Amador County has established a Disaster Relief Fund to help in the planning and implementation of a recovery effort. “We can learn much from the Red Cross. They came here, to this disaster, and helped create order out of the chaos. When one sees that Red Cross symbol, we know we can all breathe easier. It means Hope.”
Harmon’s vision for the community Foundation is to assess the recovery needs of her community and how each community partner will contribute and then add their piece to the plan to ensure success. “We have a very giving community, so it’s important that we honor those funds and not duplicate services. I look forward to working with our community partners, including the Red Cross, to see this recovery effort realized.”
The Red Cross is grateful to all the community partners in Calaveras and Amador Counties for their help in the disaster relief and recovery efforts. As all of us continue to work together in partnerships for the sake of our communities will be stronger and more prepared for whatever may come.