American Red Cross Provides Valuable Information at Calaveras Recovers Open House

On January 22, local American Red Cross volunteers joined about 20 other organizations and more than 100 Butte Fire survivors at the “Rebuilding Calaveras: A New Beginning” open house, sponsored by Calaveras Recovers, held in Mountain Ranch, CA.

Attendees were offered free expert advice on home building such as, tips on how to hire a qualified contractor, how to build fire and flood resistant homes, reforestation, and much more. Red Cross volunteers were on hand to distribute information on home fire preparedness, how to develop a fire escape plan, backpacks with fire safety information, and Disney coloring books for children.

Debbie Calcote, Disaster Program Manager, Butte Fire Recovery, was impressed and pleased with the enthusiastic attendance at the open house, in spite of the rain. She said, “It poured the whole evening, but that didn’t deter those who wanted information.”

Code Red, an emergency notification service, provided attendees information on how to sign up for the valuable service that allows emergency officials to notify residents and businesses by telephone, cell phone, text message, email, and social media regarding time-sensitive general and emergency notifications.

The Butte Fire was fully contained in early October 2015. The fire destroyed nearly 500 homes, more than 300 outbuildings, and burned nearly 72,000 acres. And unfortunately, two people were killed. Recovery from this level of destruction will continue for many years. The American Red Cross will continue to support recovery efforts through community work and as active members of the Calaveras Recovers Team.

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A Day in the Life of a Disaster Action Team Member

Heath Wakelee

At 12:30 am early Wednesday  morning the phone rang and the cheerful but very dreary voice of Debbie Calcote was saying hello.  I recognized her voice immediately and knew that Debbie would only be calling me if she had exhausted all other options.  Sure nuff – that was the case.

OK I said, I’ll go to Woodland…..Woodland??  Michael Reeves from Sacramento was my partner and he arrived about 1:05 am, 10 minutes before me.  He had called me and said that the location had no fire equipment and no clients.  “Holed on” I said, I’ll be there in 10 minutes and I was.

The street was wet and outside both the front and back doors there was evidence of burned debris being thrown out.  The smell of smoke was fresh but no clients and no fire department…..so I called Debbie.  No contact info for the clients who said that they would stick around and wait for us.  Which they did not.

Fortunately (use of that word is debatable) for Debbie – she had just received another request for a DAT response to Knights Landing.  “Where is Knights Landing” I said and Debbie said “I don’t know.”  Great…I’m thinking it is down in the delta somewhere…..so I punched the address into my navigation system and fortunately it said that the address was only 20 minutes away.  It was now about 1:30 am when Michael and I headed to Knights Landing.

We arrived at about 2:00 am to find a single woman standing near her burned out mobile home.  Temperature about 35°F.  Luckily the trailer park manager allowed us to use her tiny office to do the paperwork.  Our client’s  options were few so we helped her with lodging, food and clothing, comfort kit and well wishes.  We do not carry street sheets for every county nor lists of hotels and perhaps we can put that on the web somewhere so it would be accessible to anyone in need (or perhaps it is already available and I just don’t have the info).

We departed at 3:00 am and I was home at 4:00 am to enter the paperwork and hit the sack by 5:00 am this morning.  Sleep was compromised because the house was very, very cold – turns out the heating system went out and the temperature outside was a cool 34°F.  Fortunately is was only in the low 60s inside.  Long story short – heater repair is now scheduled for tomorrow – Thursday.  Burrrr.

Very glad that we were able to help the one client.  Hopefully She is sleeping somewhere warm tonight.   Our electric blankets will be on high.

My very best to all …. and to all a good night.

Three Years After Hurricane Sandy: Red Cross Successes and Progress

WASHINGTON, D.C. — (Thursday, October 29, 2015) — In the three years since Hurricane Sandy unleashed massive destruction along the Atlantic coast, the American Red Cross is still on the ground, having used $313 million in donations to help thousands of people recover and rebuild from the devastation of the storm.

“Hurricane Sandy was a major storm, affecting thousands of families, homes and businesses. Recovery from such a tremendous storm requires continued coordination, involvement, and commitment of many organizations. For the past three years, the Red Cross is proud to have worked alongside government and community-based partners to provide assistance to those who needed it most,” said Richard Reed, American Red Cross senior vice president, disaster cycle services.

“For so many of these people, the Red Cross has been part of the answer to helping them recover by providing financial assistance with housing-related expenses, recovery case management services, and grants to support services in the hardest hit areas.”

Hurricane Sandy Third Anniversary – Red Cross Facts:

1. Spending: The Red Cross has spent or made commitments to spend $313 million in support of our Sandy response efforts; an additional $1 million will be spent on Sandy programs in 2016. Details on how donations have been spent are available atredcross.org/sandy.

2. Emergency Relief: Before Sandy made landfall in October 2012, the Red Cross mobilized a massive emergency response effort that was ultimately supported by more than 17,000 workers from all over the country – 90 percent of them volunteers. Working with community partners, the Red Cross served more than 17.5 million meals and snacks and handed out more than 7 million relief items such as blankets, gloves, warm clothing, and home clean-up supplies. Red Crossers offered 113,000 health services and emotional support contacts and provided nearly half of the 163,000 overnight shelter stays for Sandy.

3. Recovery Support: The Red Cross has provided one-on-one assistance through casework to help thousands of families heal, rebuild and recover. The Move-In Assistance Program provided financial assistance to those whose primary homes were destroyed or made uninhabitable and who lacked the resources to relocate or make repairs. From 2012 through early 2015, this program provided more than $32.3 million to more than 5,100 households. The Red Cross has also worked closely with hundreds of partners and government agencies to make sure people have the support they need. For example, working with local residents and community organizations, the Red Cross helped start and support Long-Term Recovery Groups to address the disaster needs of storm-affected households. These groups continue to help people today in the hardest-hit areas.

4. Partnerships: The Red Cross awarded $95.2 million in funding to support critical recovery services in Sandy-devastated communities in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic. This funding has supported the repair and rebuilding of more than 7,500 homes; the training, housing and deployment of more than 230,000 volunteers; and casework, mental health and health services, financial assistance and financial and legal counseling to more than 120,000 households. This month, the Red Cross is awarding $750,000 to four organizations to help them continue to provide financial assistance to Sandy survivors; these organizations are based in New York City, Long Island, New Jersey and Connecticut. A full list of grants is available at redcross.org/sandy.

“This robust recovery effort was made possible because of the generosity of people who were moved to help after seeing heartbreaking images of devastation on the news, or reading stories of Sandy survivors who lost everything,” added Reed. “We are grateful that Americans entrusted the Red Cross with their financial donations and we have stretched these dollars to provide meaningful and lasting support to thousands of families and individuals.”

30 Days Later – The California Wildfires Response

Immediate Collaboration

The ongoing drought across California has given way to another historic wildfire season. Beginning September 9, 2015, two of the most destructive wildfires in state history flared throughout northern California. The Valley Fire is now the third most destructive fire in state history and the Butte Fire the seventh most destructive blaze. Combined, these fires burned more than 150,000 square acres and destroyed more than 1,700 homes, displacing thousands of families.

As the fires destroyed buildings, neighbors instantly came together to help one another showing amazing generosity and resilience. Local Red Cross chapters, community organizations and government agencies sprang into action as well, mobilizing volunteers to offer shelter, food, water, basic health services, and mental health services for thousands of people in the path of the wildfires.

As evacuation orders were lifted, Red Cross volunteers worked alongside community members to distribute food, and relief supplies to impacted neighborhoods and support people as they returned to their properties with health and mental health services.

California Wildfires Response by the Numbers:

  • over 120,000 meals and snacks served by Salvation Army, Southern Baptist, community groups, local restaurants and the Red Cross
  • over 58,000 relief items water, snacks, hot meals, non-perishable meals, and clean-up items such as work gloves, buckets, trash bags, sifters, and dust masks
  • over 11,000 overnight stays in 12 community or Red Cross shelters
  • over 9,900 health and mental health contacts
  • over 1,500 cases opened by Red Cross caseworkers to provide individualized recovery support.

Disasters are often complex, with complex needs – and no single agency can meet every need on its own; it takes collaboration and partnership. The reality is that it takes the talents and resources of many agencies and organizations working together to provide necessary services after a major disaster.

The Red Cross is one of many agencies coming together to ensure that basic needs are met, to work on the long-term recovery of entire communities, and to help them be prepared for and more resilient in the face of future wildfires. During the California Wildfires response, the Red Cross collaborated with several partner agencies, including several Lions Clubs, several Sevenths Day Adventists communities, Middletown Rancheria of Pomo Indians, Twin Pine Casino, Southern Baptist Disaster Relief, Salvation Army, Jackson Rancheria, Tzu Chi, St. Vincent de Paul, Catholic Charities, Children’s Disaster Services, Samaritan’s Purse, Team Rubicon, Rotary Clubs, Community Churches, Boy Scouts of America, Center of Volunteer and Nonprofit Leadership, local and state Emergency Operation Centers, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and many more.

It Takes the Whole Community to Make a Community Whole
To help all households in fire-impacted communities move forward, the Red Cross is working together with local Long-Term Recovery Groups in Lake and Calaveras Counties respectively, which are coalitions of community and grassroots organizations who will develop and execute long-term plans for a community’s recovery.

The Red Cross currently has highly trained caseworkers meeting one-on-one with each family affected by the wildfires to understand each unique situation and help them on the road to recovery with the information, assistance, and access to resources they need to put that plan into action. They are helping people with family reunification information, funeral assistance, emergency needs and recovery planning.

Caseworkers are also skilled in directing people to other agencies that provide specialized services not provided by the Red Cross.  Much of Red Cross recovery work focuses on assisting the most vulnerable people who need extra help getting back on their feet, are ineligible for government assistance, or don’t have anywhere else to turn for help.

The Red Cross also has trained disaster mental health professionals available to help adults and children cope with the emotional impact of a disaster and its aftermath.  It’s common for people to suffer from high stress, anxiety, depression and other trauma related illnesses during and after a disaster. Red Cross Disaster Mental Health workers assess clients’ needs, provide individual psychological triage, crisis intervention and condolence support, and make appropriate community referrals for longer term support.

Persons affected by the wildfires who are in need of assistance are encouraged to connect with a Red Cross caseworker by calling 855-255-2490.

Preparing for Secondary Impacts
The wildfires left vast expanses of terrain and hillsides bare and when heavy rains arrive this winter, experts predict that flooding and mudslides are not far behind.  Recognizing that these secondary impacts represent a serious threat, the Red Cross will be collaborating with local communities to increase personal preparedness and strengthening the existing volunteer corps to ensure the community is ready to respond if and when another disaster strikes.

The Red Cross provides potentially life-saving preparedness apps that are absolutely free. There are apps for first aid, tornadoes, hurricanes, flood, wildfire, and earthquake that can be programmed to give an audible warning should an event be imminent. They are filled with important information on what to do before, during, and after an event, and provide directions to Red Cross shelters. Recently, the Red Cross came out with an Emergency app that combines in one place many of the features of the individual apps described above. All of these apps are free of charge. They can be found and downloaded by going to your particular app store and searching “Red Cross” or from the Red Cross website at www.redcross.org.

No matter what the disaster is, the American Red Cross is hard at work at some phase of the Disaster Cycle and often on multiple phases at the same time. The Red Cross is here today to serve those who have lost so much, and it will be ready to serve when a future disaster strikes again.

A Picture Is Worth 1000 words – check out the images captured during the Butte Fire Response – Butte Fire Pictures

Butte Fire – Stories from the Front Lines

Author: Rich Woodruff, Deployed from Salt Lake City, Utah

Rich visits one of the home sites ravaged by the Butte Fire
                              Rich Woodruff surveys one of the home sites ravaged by the Butte Fire

The Red Cross Story at the Butte fire is not a single story, but many stories as communities, government, interfaith communities and businesses come together during times of crisis.  The media has played a critical role in disseminating information to the public and raising funds for the Red Cross through telethons and other campaigns.

MobileFeedings2The Red Cross has been distributing cleaning supplies and food at many areas affected by the Butte Fire. Just yesterday, when our emergency response vehicle was arriving to one of the areas that was blackened by the fire, people camping on their decimated property began wandering down from the hills in dire need of food, clothing, bedding, batteries, diapers, dog food … the list goes on and on.

Red Cross volunteers were there to greet them with a warm smile, hugs and more. Our mission there was twofold: to distribute relief and clean up supplies as well as serving lunch prepared by the Southern Baptist remote kitchen in nearby San Andreas.  The kitchen cooks thousands of meals a day and Red Cross ERVs (Emergency Response Vehicles) get them to the people where they are since most have lost their transportation.  Today’s lunch was chicken fingers, potato salad and homemade banana pudding.  The food was fresh and warm thanks to the special insulation containers used in the ERV’s.20150920_130752

One story that really touched me was the story of Mary from the Mountain Ranch area. Mary had not eaten in two days and was scouring the makeshift store for diapers, bedding, clean clothes and just basic needs like toiletries.   She also was asking about burn cream for her cat that had wandered on to the smoldering ashes of her property.  I quickly joined her rummaging through boxes finally coming upon some Aloe Vera.  At this time, her pet’s needs were more important to her than her own needs. She rushed to put some of the aloe vera on her cat… we waited and invited her to eat some food. While she was eating, Mary shared her story and appreciation for our immediate concern and help. A few minutes later, a line was forming behind the Red Cross supply truck full of rakes, garbage bags, gloves, buckets, dust masks and other clean-up supplies.

Another person affected by the Butte Fire, showed up with another specific need. Bob, was asking if we had any sifters and thanks to the generosity of Ace Hardware we actually did.

Ace Hardware donated 2×4’s and screens and Red Cross volunteers built more than 600 sifters so that they can be distributed during our routes to the affected area.  Bob had heard of people finding valuables and was hopeful to do the same.  In our efforts to take care of first things first, it’s easy to overlook the importance of a mailbox key or the emotional boost a retrieved precious family heirloom would provide.

Recovering from a disaster takes time and the Red Cross will be working alongside partners in the community to deliver aid for months to come.

We were here before this disaster, during and will remain after, because that’s what we do.

NEWS: Red Cross Assistance Center Opens Today to Help People Affected by the Butte Fire

Jackson, CA, Thursday, September 19, 2015 – The American Red Cross will open a Client Assistance Center to help people affected by the Butte Fire beginning Saturday, September 19, 2015. The center is located at the St. Katharine Drexel Parish at 11361 Prospect Dr., in Jackson, California. The Center will be open from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., for the next few days.

Residents from Amador and Calaveras Counties who were affected by the Butte Fire are welcomed at the assistance center to begin the recovery process. Red Cross caseworkers are available to help people create personal recovery plans, navigate paperwork, and locate assistance from the Red Cross and other agencies. Caseworkers will meet one-on-one with residents to help them with their specific disaster-caused emergency needs such as clean-up or new housing assistance, transportation costs, furniture and clothing replacement. 

Additionally, Red Cross volunteers will be distributing clean-up kits with mops, buckets, bleach, trash bags and rakes at this center and additional locations.

“Red Cross volunteers are loading trucks and traveling to affected neighborhoods with food and supplies. Our disaster workers are doing whatever we can to reach more people who need help,” said Teresa Caver, Interim CEO of the American Red Cross Gold Country Region.  “We understand that people are living in very tough conditions. The uncertainty of whether people will have homes to return to makes this an emotionally draining time. Red Cross mental health volunteers are supporting residents as they learn the status of the homes.”

Red Cross healthcare workers will also be there to help with minor medical needs, and trained mental health workers will be available to provide emotional support and coping strategies.

The American Red Cross will also be available at the Calaveras Local Assistance Center (CLAC) and provide information about available assistance. The CLAC will be operating at the Calaveras County Government Center located at 891 Mountain Ranch Road in San Andreas starting today at 9:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. and will be open until Monday.

Shelters remain open at Jackson Rancheria in Amador County, the Good Samaritan Church, and the Jenny Lynn Veterans Hall in Calaveras County. More than 1500 people sought refuge in our shelters and many more are visiting every day for hot meals and information about what help is available.

Trained Red Cross health and mental health workers are providing services to people at the shelters, including emotional support and replacing prescription medications and eyeglasses.

The Red Cross has provided the following to people impacted by the fires:

o          More than 5,400 overnight stays in shelters

o          More than 32,000 meals and snacks

o          More than 2,300 health and mental health services

DOWNLOAD THE FREE RED CROSS APPS

Stay informed: The Red Cross has several smartphone apps available that will alert you to National Weather Service warnings for severe weather and flash flooding and provide you with preparedness and safety information. These free apps are available for download at redcross.org/apps.

VOLUNTEERING

At this time, the American Red Cross of Gold Country Region is fortunate to have volunteers who are trained, ready and willing to support our response to the flooding in our communities. We thank individuals and community groups who are willing to support this effort and encourage them to register to become new volunteers to help with future disaster responses. Learn more and register online at redcross.org /volunteer and complete the online application.

About the American Red Cross Gold Country Region
Founded in 1898, the Gold Country Region of the American Red Cross serves 4.4 million people in Alpine, Amador, Butte, Calaveras, Colusa, El Dorado, Glenn, Lassen, Modoc, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Sacramento, San Joaquin, Shasta, Sierra, Siskiyou, Stanislaus, Sutter, Tehama, Trinity, Tuolumne, Yolo, and Yuba counties. The Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies nearly half of the nation’s blood; teaches lifesaving skills; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a charitable organization — not a government agency — and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission.

For more information, visit our website, or follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

Help on the Ground and From Six Thousand Miles Away

Typhoon Soundelor destroyed homes, toppled trees and snapped utility poles on the 48-square mile island of Saipan. The island is close to six thousand miles away from Stanislaus County, but distance doesn’t play a role in how the Red Cross provides assistance to the people affected by this disaster.

As part of a new virtual deployment program, Red Cross volunteers from this region are now helping people affected by natural disasters across the country and around the world without ever leaving their homes.

KathyPascoe1
Volunteer Kathy Pascoe has been serving and helping our communities through the American Red Cross for 21 years. Thank you Kathy!!

Kathy Pascoe lives in Ceres.  She has been a volunteer with the Red Cross for 21 years and is part of the Disaster Action Team that responds to local disasters. Kathy is trained in health services, nursing and client case work, among other things.

From her home in Stanislaus County, Kathy is helping process paperwork online for families affected by the tropical storm. Those documents are necessary to get funding and other resources approved for the disaster victims. This is a more cost-effective way of offering assistance.

“Typhoon Soudelor is the biggest storm to hit Saipan in 30 years, and the situation is desperate,” said Kathy Pascoe, Red Cross Volunteer.  “Being virtually deployed is a great opportunity for volunteers that either can’t take time off from work to deploy, or for family reasons… they can still help those in need.

Kathy has done more than 200 case reviews from the comfort of her own home, for both the Typhoon and a month earlier for the flooding disaster in Texas.

The Red Cross responded immediately to support sheltering, feeding and damage assessment efforts by deploying numerous volunteers to this part of the U.S. Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands shortly after the typhoon. We opened close to 1000 cases and provided over 22,000 meals and snacks, more than 2,000 health and mental health contacts and over 38,500 emergency relief items to the residents affected by this disaster.

Because of the extensive damage, the Red Cross created a robust relief plan to get immediate help to people who need it. The virtual support program delivers financial assistance with critical supplies to help people leave emergency shelters and begin recovering from Soudelor.

How You Can Help

Residents can help people affected by disasters like Typhoon Soudelor and countless other crises by making a gift to American Red Cross Disaster Relief. Your gift enables the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters big and small. Go online or call 1-800-REDCROSS.

You can also become a Red Cross Volunteer. Like Kathy, you can train to help virtually and / or respond locally. Search now for opportunities to volunteer – we are always looking for people with various backgrounds, talents, and skill levels.