Finding Comfort After Tragedy

It has been an incredibly trying 72 hours for Bonnie Flores, some of the most difficult moments of her life.

“After what happened to me, I never thought I’d laugh again,” she said sitting in a chair near the entrance of an American Red Cross wildfire evacuation center. “But here at this shelter, everyone gives so much love. I’m smiling all the time.”

Three days earlier, Flores received an urgent notice by phone from emergency officials to evacuate her Paradise, CA home immediately due to the imminent danger caused by approaching wildfires. With only time to grab a few personal items and some medications, the 80-year old jumped in her car and drove away.

Surrounded by smoke and fire, she made her way, slowly, through the narrow roads, following thousands of her neighbors fleeing the flames as well.

“I saw a tree explode in front of me, homes on fire,” she said. “I prayed to God to let me live through this.”

Her perilous evacuation to safety took nearly eight hours and ended after finally descending the mountain and finding a safe place where she could call 911 to access emergency assistance. Hours later she would learn that her house of 30 years was one of the nearly 6,500 homes in Paradise destroyed by the fire.

Thankfully, Flores eventually made her way to a Red Cross shelter where she found some comfort.

“When we walked through these doors, people just surrounded us,” she said. “‘How can we help you? What do you need?’ they said. It meant so much to me.”

Since the wildfire started, more than 175 people like Flores have found refuge at an evacuation center at the Butte County Fairgrounds. There, the Red Cross has provided families with warm meals, water, snacks, emotional support and other services. Many more evacuees have stopped by the center during the day for food, supplies and information.

“They sit you down, they hold your hand, they let you get it out,” said Flores about the volunteers helping her. “And that’s what I needed.”

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Time to Evacuate? Be Red Cross Ready

As the Red Cross continues to respond to the Camp Fire disaster in Butte County, we want to make sure you have the items you need close at hand should you have to evacuate.

Preparation is important!

Listen to local area radio stations, watch local TV news, and check your city and county websites for the latest wildfire information. Check every 30 minutes to get the latest weather updates and emergency instructions.

Back your car into the garage or park it in an open space facing your direction of escape.

Arrange for temporary housing at a friend or relative’s home outside the threatened area.

Identify nearby shelter sites and review directions to get there.

Keep your pets in one room so you can find them quickly if you have to evacuate.

Keep your indoor air clean. Close windows and doors to prevent the smoke outside from getting in your home.

Stock up on N-95 air respirator masks to help block smoke particles.

Review the Emergency Kit List below to ensure you have everything you need should you have to evacuate your home in an emergency.

Once you build your emergency kit, it can be helpful to keep it in your car so it’s with you when you evacuate.

  • Water: one gallon per person, per day (3-day supply for evacuation, 2-week supply for home)
  • Food: non-perishable, easy-to-prepare items (3-day supply for evacuation, 2-week supply for home).
  • Flashlight
  • Battery-powered or hand-crank radio (NOAA Weather Radio, if possible)
  • Extra batteries
  • First aid kit
  • Medications (7-day supply) and medical items
  • Multi-purpose tool
  • Sanitation and personal hygiene items
  • Copies of personal documents (medication list and pertinent medical information, proof of address, deed/lease to home, passports, birth certificates, insurance policies)
  • Cell phone with chargers
  • Family and emergency contact information
  • Extra cash
  • Emergency blanket
  • Map(s) of the area

Consider the needs of all family members and add supplies to your kit, as needed.

  • Medical supplies (hearing aids with extra batteries, glasses, contact lenses, syringes, etc.)
  • Baby supplies (bottles, formula, baby food, diapers)
  • Games and activities for children
  • Pet supplies (collar, leash, ID, food, carrier, bowl)
  • Two-way radios
  • Extra set of car keys and house keys
  • Manual can opener

Sunday Camp Fire Shelter Update

Good afternoon, all. Gold Country Communications Director Stephen Walsh writing to you from Bidwell Junior High School in Chico, our newest evacuation shelter for Camp Fire evacuees.

As I type this, Red Cross volunteers are setting up dozens of cots inside the school cafeteria and readying the campus for the arrival of Camp Fire evacuees.

All Red Cross shelters are accepting additional guests except Church of the Nazarene in Oroville. That location is at capacity.

Here is the updated list of our evacuation shelters in Butte County:

Bidwell Junior High School, 2376 North Ave., Chico, CA 95926

Butte County Fairground, 199 East Hazel St., Gridley, CA 95948

Church of the Nazarene, 2238 Monte Vista Ave., Oroville, CA 95966 (FULL)

Neighborhood Church, 2801 Notre Dame Blvd. Chico, CA 95928

Plumas County Fairground, 204 Fairground Rd., Quincy, CA 95971

If you would like to donate to the American Red Cross California Wildfire Relief effort, visit redcross.org or call 1-800-RED-CROSS.

 

 

Oroville Scouts Ready to Help Despite Camp Fire Anxieties

Boy Scouts from Troop 29 in Oroville arrived at the Oroville Red Cross shelter Saturday ready to pitch in wherever they could help. The enthusiastic scouts moved supplies to storage areas, sorted donations, picked up litter, even occasionally handled babysitting dogs for people at the shelter.

Drew, one of the scouts, said his home is safe, but others in his troop were not so lucky. One family is unsure of the status of its home and some others are in areas at risk. Drew said that he felt good that all of the people at the shelter were getting the help they needed.

Kullen, another scout from Troop 29, said he had spent many restless nights unsure of where the fire would go. He had worked with his family to pack up all their important and precious processions, just in case. But still he worried that they would not have enough room in their two cars for everything they needed.

Though Kullen had his own worries, he was also very concerned about the people he encountered at the shelter. He overheard conversations. “They could not stop talking about the fire. It was very heartbreaking,” he said.

The Red Cross appreciates the assistance and hard work of Oroville Boy Scout Troop 29 and all of the organizations that support the Red Cross.

If you would like to donate to the American Red Cross California Wildfire Relief effort, go to redcross.org or call 1-800-RED-CROSS.

Butte County Identifies Camp Fire Pickup Location for Donated Items

Butte County has designated The Hope Center, 1950 Kitrick Ave A, Oroville, CA, 95966, as a pickup location for donated items for people affected by the Camp Fire.

Donated items should be dropped off at the Oroville Municipal Auditorium, 1200 Myers Street. Needed items include warm clothes, shoes, paper products (toilet paper, forks, spoons, paper plates, paper towels), and women’s undergarments.

Evacuees in need of supplies can pick up items at the Hope Center.

Saturday’s Camp Fire Shelter Update

This morning’s Red Cross shelter update is coming to you from the Church of the Nazarene in Oroville. First a note of appreciation to The Salvation Army who has been here providing meals to Carr Fire evacuees. They got the morning rolling yet again by serving breakfast items as everyone started the morning watching the local news.

The Red Cross is providing shelter, food, and comfort at four shelters in Butte County. Last night, Red Cross shelters housed about 650 evacuees.

Red Cross Shelter Locations:

Butte County Fairgrounds

199 East Hazel Street

Gridley, CA 95928

Chico Elks Lodge

1705 Manzanita Avenue

Chico, CA 95926

Neighborhood Church

2801 Notre Dame Blvd

Chico, CA 95929

Oroville Nazarene Church

2238 Monte Vista Avenue

Oroville, CA 95966

Red Cross shelters are open to all, regardless of race, creed, religion, or immigration status.

Evacuees are encouraged to register at the Red Cross Safe and Well website so friends and loved ones know you are safe.

Concerned family and friends can search the list of those who have registered themselves as “safe and well” by clicking on the “Search Registrants” button. The results of a successful search will display a loved one’s first name, last name and a brief message.

Congratulations to Our Latest CNA Grads

Congratulations to our newest class of graduates in the American Red Cross Certified Nursing Assistant Program.

In all, 14 CNA students completed the six-week training at our Sacramento headquarters. Thirteen of them were recognized for perfect attendance and 13 made it to the Honor Roll, scoring at least 95% on all quizzes and the final exam.

If you are interested in beginning nursing training with the Red Cross, visit redcross.org/goldcountry for information.