Story by Michele Maki, American Red Cross
Community partnerships are an important part of the success of any Red Cross mission in a disaster. When Oroville and the surrounding communities were ordered to evacuate Sunday night, the American Red Cross had only hours to activate their emergency plans to feed and shelter potentially thousands of displaced people. Cal Expo at the California State Fairgrounds in Sacramento became an important community partner when the State of California ordered it to open for this emergency.
This year Cal Expo celebrates its 50th anniversary and was the brainchild of Governor Pat Brown. It was dedicated in 1968 by then-Governor Ronald Regan. It has been the showcase for car shows, thoroughbred and harness racing, and many programs highlighting California’s agriculture and wine industry. It had never been called on, however, to house potentially hundreds of evacuees from a disaster. The officials at Cal Expo and the Red Cross linked arms to make it happen. By Monday morning, only hours after evacuation orders were issued, supplies and staff were arriving and by noon the shelter was in full operation.
“We’ve never worked with the Red Cross before, and I have to say they were amazing,’’ complimented Margaret Mohr, Deputy General Manager for Cal Expo. “The disaster planning, preparedness and cooperation helped make this a successful operation. Cal Expo looks forward to a long and beneficial partnership with the Red Cross.”
High praise for Cal Expo was expressed by the Red Cross, too.
“Cal Expo has been a very helpful and accommodating host during this disaster.” said Red Cross Volunteer and Shelter Manager, Mike Jamie. “We’ve been assisted by their facilities management, event planning, law enforcement, and administrative services. Because of this, the operation ran much more smoothly.”
The praises for both agencies don’t stop there. The evacuated residents who benefited from this partnership gave kudos, too. “The staff was so warm and inviting. They kept everything so clean and organized. No one judged us and everyone was so respectful,” shared Jennifer Moss, an evacuee from the town of Linda. “We came here afraid and worried, and the folks here helped ease our fears. I’d like to thank everyone at Cal Expo and the American Red Cross for all you’ve done for us.”