Amid wildfire worries, comfort and kindness in a Red Cross Shelter
This is another in a series of stories we are posting on this regional blog related to the American Red Cross response to the Kincade Fire disaster:
By Barbara Wood, American Red Cross
Lynne Fredericks recounted to American Red Cross volunteer Larry Dietz how she ended up in an evacuation shelter in the Veterans Memorial Building in Santa Rosa, California during the Kincade Fire.
Fredericks, her sister, plus dog Jack and two cats, were part of a mandatory Kincade Fire evacuation from nearby Windsor that began on Saturday, Oct. 26. They were able to return home a few days later, after the evacuation was lifted on Thursday, Oct. 30.
“Their kindness and generosity make it easier for me and other people who are there,” Fredericks said of the American Red Cross and other volunteers staffing the shelter. “I am in awe, and I mean that seriously, of how you have been able to put all this together and make it work,” she said. The American Red Cross, along with community and government partners, had set up in just hours as the fire spread on Saturday, Oct. 26.
The shelter held 400 evacuees on its busiest night.
Even after the third night spent in the shelter, along with hundreds of other evacuees as firefighters worked round the clock to tame the Kincade Fire, Lynne Fredericks was grateful.
She said she had been cooking a pot of soup when she and her sister, Jeanne, got an emergency alert that their community was under mandatory evacuation.
“We had to rush and put things together,” Fredericks said. Their car loaded, the sisters, along with their 10-year-old terrier-mix dog Jack plus two cats, headed toward the Veterans building. A neighbor had passed on word that an evacuation shelter was opening there.
On a freeway jammed with other evacuees, a drive that normally took 15 to 20 minutes was at least three times that long, Fredericks said. Even so, drivers were remarkably kind to one another, she said.
“Disasters seem to bring out the best in people,” said Fredericks, who lived in New York City during 9-11 and moved to California in June 2017 just before the Tubbs Fire swept through Sonoma County.
Fredericks said this was her first experience with an evacuation, although in 2017, under an evacuation warning, she said she had packed her car and left it ready to go for three weeks.
After a few days at the shelter, Fredericks said she was amazed at how hard others were working to help the evacuees, and doing it “with so much kindness and generosity.”
“I have not seen anyone be rude to somebody coming in. I have not seen it. I always see them being helpful,” she said.
That kindness and generosity “makes it easier for me and other people who are there,” Fredericks said.
“The workload is enormous,” she said of the effort that went into caring for as many as 400 people at the shelter. “I know there are problems, but you make it seem like it is effortless,” she said.
You can help people affected by disasters like wildfires 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.
- Call, click, or text to give: visit redcross.org, call 1-800 RED CROSS, or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.
- To donate by check or to a specific cause, please complete the donation form on redcross.org and print and mail to your local Red Cross chapter.
- The Red Cross honors donor intent. Donors can designate their donation to relief efforts for the California wildfires by indicating this in the memo line of a check or in the donation form.