The American Red Cross is in California, providing shelter, food and comfort as residents cope with the deadly wildfires in the state. While residents of some communities have been allowed to return home, some people remain under mandatory evacuation orders
As many as 27,400 homes are threatened by the fires. The fires have already burned more than 214,000 acres and destroyed some 8,300 structures, including thousands of homes. Wineries in the Napa Valley have been affected, potentially putting many people out of work. The winds have died down and many red flag wildfire warnings have been lifted, allowing firefighters to make progress in containing some of the fires. Roads are closed, several hospitals have been evacuated, thousands are without power and schools are closed. Many gas lines, hydroelectric power sources, water supplies and communication infrastructures are damaged or destroyed. So far this year there have been more than 51,000 wildfires, consuming more than 8.8 million acres in the U.S.
Red Cross Responds
Alongside partners, Red Cross disaster workers are supporting evacuation centers where people can find safe refuge from the fires, a hot meal, emotional support, and the opportunity to reconnect with loved ones and get information. Red Cross volunteers are working to ensure that everyone –including children, the elderly, and those with special needs – get the best possible help during this challenging time. Red Cross disaster workers are also providing health services such as replacing lost medications and eyeglasses, emotional support and spiritual care to people whose lives have been turned upside down by these wildfires. Mobile kitchens will be up and running later this week to help feed those in need. Dozens of emergency response vehicles will begin distributing relief supplies and meals as evacuation orders are lifted.
Local volunteers are building wildfire relief kits, including such things as rakes, shovels, masks, gloves, garbage bags, sifters, eye drops and sanitary wipes, to be handed out throughout the affected area. The Red Cross is also working closely with government and community partners to coordinate relief efforts. Some of those partners include Children’s Disaster Services, the Salvation Army and Southern Baptist Disaster Relief.
Stay Connected with Loved Ones
It’s critical during a disaster to help people reconnect with their loved ones. Red Cross volunteers at our shelters are helping people to register on Safe and Well to facilitate reunification.
Visit the Red Cross Safe and Well website at redcross.org/safeandwell. The site allows individuals and organizations to register and post messages to indicate that they are safe, or to search for loved ones. The site is always available, open to the public and available in Spanish. Registrations and searches can be done directly on the website. Registrations can also be completed by texting SAFE to 78876. You can also use the “I’m Safe” feature of the Red Cross Emergency App to let loved ones know your status.
Use Red Cross Wildfire Safety Tips
The Red Cross urges these three steps: (1) build a disaster kit; (2) come up with an emergency plan; and (3) be informed about how local authorities will notify, whether through local media or NOAA Weather Radio stations or channels.
You should also download the free Red Cross Emergency App to have real-time information about the storm, shelter locations and hurricane safety tips at your fingertips. The Emergency App is available in app stores by searching for the American Red Cross or going to redcross.org/apps.
How to Help
Americans are generous and want to do everything they can to help after a disaster. Unfortunately, collecting and sending food, clothing and other household items often does more harm than good. Instead, the best way to support disaster victims is with a financial donation. Financial donations can be accessed quickly to support those affected, and be put to use right away. With a financial donation, individuals can buy what they need and want.
Help people affected by the California wildfires by visiting redcross.org, calling 1- 800-RED CROSS or texting the word CAWILDFIRES to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Donations enable the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from this disaster.