Safety, Comfort and Security Offered at Mountain Fire Shelter in Redding

By Nicole Ritchie, Red Cross Volunteer

The Mountain Fire began late Thursday morning just northeast of Redding, California.  As the blaze quickly grew, some 1,100 structures were threatened and an estimated 3,885 people were told to evacuate.

Mountain Fire Shelter Staff
Red Cross shelter staff prepare for visitors during this week’s Mountain Fire evacuation.

By mid-afternoon a Red Cross evacuation center was opened at the Crosspointe Community Church in Redding.

In a community still recovering from the devastating Carr Fire last summer, tensions were high.  Throughout the day, Red Cross volunteers handed out water and snacks to evacuees who came by while anxiously awaiting news about the fire.

Shelter manager Janice Johnson said that most people who visited the evacuation center did not register to stay the night.

“They are just checking in. They want to see there is a place to go if needed,” she said.

A visitor named Jeri, who had been at a shelter during the Carr Fire, was one who decided to stay the night at Crosspointe. She shared that her husband passed away last year.

“It’s scary to be alone not knowing what’s going to happen with the fire.  I feel safe at the shelter,” Jeri  said.

On the cot next to her sat another evacuee, Doris, who stated simply, “Thank you. I really appreciate having a place to go.”

Eleven evacuees spent the night at the shelter as Red Cross volunteers for the overnight shift relieved fellow volunteers who had worked hard all day.

Shelter manager Johnson who has been involved in opening several shelters over the last year explained, “When you open a shelter you just don’t know what to expect. Will no one show up? Will 200?”

It’s the unpredictable nature of a disaster.  What can be counted on is that the American Red Cross will to be there to provide safe shelter, nourishing food and compassionate care.

Locate open shelters around the country here.

If you are interested in volunteering with the Red Cross or supporting our mission with a donation, visit redcross.org.

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Meet Super Volunteer, Richard Johnston

Richard “Don” Johnston  

Twenty-three years ago, Richard Johnston retired as an electronic supervisor at the Stockton Navy Communication Station. Not one to sit for very long, Richard immediately got busy refinishing furniture. He also took on huge responsibilities at his church, doing maintenance and managing the kitchen; overseeing the weekly Wednesday niJohnstonght dinners and all of the banquets. All of this was not enough. Richard sought out a volunteer position at his local blood center (then, Delta Blood Bank), ten years ago.  

Richard has been a loyal and committed Delta Blood Bank/American Red Cross volunteer for a decade, at both the Stockton Blood Center and at mobiles, AND; he shows no sign of slowing down! During our transition to become American Red Cross, we needed more volunteer power. Richard contributed over 800 hours during the transition period! 

As a volunteer, I believe it is our responsibility to be attentive during our time serving. When a donor is at the counter for their goodies, I maintain constant contact with them, ensuring they are not having problems. I do not watch the TV while donors are at the counter. I believe it is our responsibility to maintain constant vigil at all times. To be consistent in my duties, I read the Volunteer Guidelines posted on the bulletin board each week. This reminds me of my responsibilities to the donor. 

Richard is also a whole blood and platelet donor, and at this writing was closing in on his 27-gallon goal.