“All is Not Lost”: A Carr Fire Survivor Shares Her Story

Los Angeles-based Red Cross volunteer Carmela Burke recently completed her deployment to the Carr Fire in Redding where she assisted the public affairs team. While there, she got the chance to interview Terry Zeller, a resident whose home burned in the fire.

But thanks to the help from firefighters and the support of friends and neighbors, Zeller said, “All is not lost.”

Read her story here.

Trailhead Fire Update: Two Evacuation Shelters available for Trailhead Fire evacuees

Auburn, Calif., June 30, 2016 — The American Red Cross in partnership with El Dorado and Placer counties Office of Emergency Services have established two evacuation shelters for residents who have been affected by the growing Trailhead Fire.

Placer County Evacuation Center:

Gold Country Fair Grounds – Sierra Building

1273 High St, Auburn, CA 95603

There are two shelters available to provide a secure place to stay for both evacuees and their pets.

The shelters are separated due to the health and safety of our shelter guests. Red Cross is providing shelter, food, snacks, water and emotional support.

El Dorado County Evacuation Center:

Golden Sierra High School

5101 Garden Valley Road, Garden Valley, CA

This shelter is being staffed by Red Cross volunteers and managed by the El Dorado County Health and Human Services. The County is also providing a small animal pet shelter at this location.  All large animals need to be transported to 1100 Cold Springs Road, where El Dorado County Animal Services has arranged for accommodations.

The Red Cross is not providing hotel vouchers for evacuated residents, however, we’re encouraging everyone to find comfort at one of our shelters where they can find a safe place to lay down, blankets, food, water and snacks.

Disasters like this create more needs than any one organization can meet. The Red Cross works closely with government and community partners to coordinate efforts.

A public meeting will be held tonight.  Fire staff will give an informational update and answer questions from the public.  American Red Cross will be present as well.

Trailhead Fire Public Meeting:

Thursday, June 30, 2016

7:00pm

Golden Sierra High School

5101 Garden Valley Road, Garden Valley

About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission.

 The Gold Country Region serves a twenty-four county territory including 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.

 For more information, please visit redcross.org/GoldCountry or cruzrojaamericana.org. Stay up to date by following us on Twitter (@RCSierraDelta | @RedCrossNECal) or join the conversation on Facebook’s Sierra-Delta Chapter Page or Northeastern California Page.

Six Month Update on Recovery for the Butte Wildfire

As you know, our friends and neighbors in Amador and Calaveras counties endured a relentless series of devastating wildfires this past summer. Today, our work continues, where Red Cross staff and volunteers continue to collaborate to ensure residents have the extra assistance they need to rebuild, not just as individuals but as a whole community, too.

Click HERE to read a six-month Stewardship Report that provides a first-hand look at your generously donated dollars at work, detailing our continued support and recovery efforts in the community.

Thank you for your support and commitment to help those affected by these wildfires. Your generosity makes the hope of recovery possible at a time when people need it the most.

Sincerely,
Gary Strong, CEO American Red Cross Gold Country Region

Below is a video that resumes our work over the last six months.

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.

Join us! Help us save lives on December 5!

20150502_123839Join the Home Fire Preparedness Campaign on December 4th and 5th for our Goal: 1000 Smoke Alarm Installation Event!

Here are some important details:

December 4th will be a pre-canvass event where volunteers will be placing door hangers to inform residents in 17 predetermined neighborhoods in Sacramento about the smoke alarm installation event on December 5.

December 5th will be the Goal 1000 event where each volunteer will be placed into groups of four which will consist of one Red Cross volunteer who will be an educator, one document-er, and two installers.

Sign up to be one of the volunteers that can help save someone’s life.

Red Cross member volunteers go to www.redcross.org/volunteerconnection (Go to: My Shifts, Special Events, December)

Non-Red Cross volunteers simply go to pre-register at http://bit.ly/Goal1000 and fill out the form for the day (or days) that you wish to sign up for.

Thank you for helping to make a difference!  All volunteers must pre-register by Friday, November 20. No walk-in volunteering is available.

The Home Fire Preparedness Campaign aims to reduce the total number of home fire related deaths and injuries by 25% by 2020.

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

FAQ: Valley and Butte Wildfire Recovery

faq-post-pictureAs families re-enter their neighborhoods, many are asking how to stay safe, where to go, and what the next steps are as they map out their road to recovery.

We have gathered some resources to help answer a few of the most commonly asked questions the Red Cross is receiving from those affected by the California Wildfires. The following information has been developed with guidance from CalFire, California Environmental Protection Agency, California Department of Public Health, Calaveras County,  and Lake County, California.

Please note that all Red Cross services are free.

Q: How do I know when it’s safe to return to my property?

A: Do not re-enter your property until fire officials say it’s safe to do so. Check the CalFire website for most recent updates. Keep your skin covered by wearing long pants, sleeves, gloves and masks while sifting through debris to keep ash and any toxic chemicals away. Use caution when entering burned areas as hazards may still exist, including hot spots which can flare up without warning.

Q: Is the water safe to drink?

A: Consult your local drinking water provider or check with your county officials to ensure the water is safe to drink. Wash any home-grown fruit or vegetables from trees or gardens before eating.

Q: Can I eat the food that was kept in my refrigerator?

A: If you were evacuated and/or without power, dispose of any food left in your refrigerator. Make sure to sterilize the interior and exterior of your refrigerator and freezer thoroughly before storing food when electricity has been restored to avoid contamination.

Q:  Where do I dispose of garbage if there are no trash facilities in my area?

A: Do NOT dispose of ash or fire debris in dumpsters or garbage bins, as it may contain hazardous waste. Cleaning products, paint, batteries and damaged fuel containers need to be disposed of properly to avoid risk.  Shop vacuums and other non-HEPA filter vacuums are not recommended to clean up ash. HEPA filter vacuums could be used, if available.  Calaveras County has a debris cleanup effort in place. Lake County is developing a debris plan; please continue to check http://www.co.lake.ca.us.

Q: How do I protect myself when cleaning up ash?

A: Wear a mask, gloves, long sleeved shirts and long pants to avoid ash contact with skin, as it may cause irritation. If you get ash on your skin, wash it off as soon as possible. Some wet ash can cause chemical burns. Do not use leaf blowers as they will cause ash to disperse in the air.

Q: Is it safe to allow my kids and pets near ash?

A: Keep children and pets away from ash and do not allow them to play near ash pits.  Wash toys thoroughly before children play with them. Hidden embers and hot spots could burn your pets’ paws or hooves.

Q: How do I stay healthy during the recovery and clean up process?

A: Cleaning, sorting and sifting through debris can be strenuous and emotionally taxing. If you experience chest tightness or pain, shortness of breath, or dizziness, seek medical care immediately. Some ash may cause chemical burns when it becomes wet on the skin. Make sure to pay close attention to children and the health and emotional impacts your family may be feeling.

Q: Where can I find additional resources on getting disaster recovery assistance?

A:  You can register with the Red Cross for immediate relief needs. To do so, please talk directly with a Red Cross caseworker at a local assistance center, chapter location or call 855-224-2490. Please note that signing in at a Red Cross shelter does not qualify as officially registering for disaster relief assistance.

Those who registered with the American Red Cross for wildfire assistance need to also register separately with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) at 800-621-3362. Registering with FEMA is required to be considered for federal assistance, even if you have registered with another disaster relief organization such as the American Red Cross, the state, local officials or churches.  The Red Cross and FEMA are separate entities that treat client information as confidential.

Licensed Mental Health Workers are Onsite to Provide Comfort

Written by Jan Mendoza, Volunteer Contributor

Disasters are typically unexpected, sudden and overwhelming and for many people they can take an emotional toll. It’s common for people to suffer from high stress, anxiety, depression and other trauma related illnesses.

Many do not know that immediately after a disaster strikes a community the American Red Cross deploys highly skilled professionals to shelters and assistance centers to provide individual psychological triage, community mental health surveillance, psychological first aid, psychoeducation, community resilience training, advocacy, crisis intervention and condolence support.

georgia tiessen- mental healthGeorgia Tiessen, a Red Cross volunteer with a Masters in Social Work has been diligently helping victims of the Butte fire get the vital help and resources they need to cope in the days and months ahead.

“These people hold it together as long as they can to get their immediate needs met, but then it hits them,” said Tiessen. “We want to make sure that they are not left dealing with these feelings on their own and get the help and support they need for the long term.”

Delores lost her home and barely got out with her life escaping from the Butte Fire on September 9. She was waiting outside of the Red Cross Assistance Center in San Andreas visibly upset as her husband was signing up for Red Cross Services.

“I have anxiety issues and I just couldn’t go in with him; I needed to separate myself”, she said. “We lost everything and have to start over.” Mental Health Volunteer Georgia Tiessen not only made sure Delores got her hot lunch as she waited, Georgia counseled her, gave big hugs and the resources Delores will need to help her overcome.

Compassionate mental health care is just one face of recovery when disaster strikes and for Delores that face was Georgia.

There are many ways people can volunteer with the Red Cross, including serving as a disaster mental health worker like Georgia Tiessen. Join the team today!

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.

Red Cross and KCRA3 To Host a California Wildfires Telethon Tomorrow

OKC_telethon16
KCRA
has once more stepped up to support the American Red Cross and our local communities!

Currently, the American Red Cross is helping more than 1,130 people at 7 shelters across Northern California that have been affected by the Rough, Butte and Valley Fires.

At the shelters, Red Cross volunteers are providing meals, personal hygiene items, cleaning supplies, health services such as replacing medications and eyeglasses and emotional support for the people affected by the fires.

The telethon is scheduled for tomorrow, Tuesday, September 15 from 4:30 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. on KCRA3, with a cut-over to MY58 from 7:00 a.m. – 9:00 a.m.

Help people affected by the California Wildfires. Your donation enables the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from these disasters.OKC_telethon15

The telethon number to make a donation is: 800-513-3333 and it will be staffed by Red Cross volunteers and corporate partners.

We have some exciting check presentations by our wonderful community partners!

And this just in! Salem Communications and I Heart Radio have begun promoting the telethon in their radio programming! (KKFS- the Fish, 1380AM-The Answer, 710AM KFIA, 105.5FM and I-Heart Radio Modesto!) 

Thank you to everyone who has been calling to help!

PS. If you are not able to call during the telethon, you can donate to the California Wildfires to the Gold Country Region of the American Red Cross:

  • Mail in  your donation to: American Red Cross Gold Country Region | Attention: Laura Thompson | 1565 Exposition Blvd, Sacramento, CA 95815
  • Call: Laura Thompson, r | 916-993-7080 | Please note, this is a recording, please leave a message and Laura will call you back to ask for your donation which will be designated to the California Wildfires.