When they needed shelter, the Red Cross was there
Photos and reporting by Barbara Wood/Red Cross volunteer
The Galvan Alvarez family was sound asleep in their South San Francisco apartment in the early hours of January 10 when they were jolted awake as the entire roof blew off their apartment building.
“At first we thought it was an earthquake,” Jose Galvan Alvarez said, holding his nine-month-old grandson, Kingston, in a Red Cross shelter at the San Mateo County Event Center. Water from one of the series of major storms that have been pounding California started pouring in through ceiling light fixtures, he said.
The family called the fire department, which quickly responded and referred them to the nearby Red Cross shelter that had been opened to provide refuge from the storm for all who needed it. The family arrived at about 4 a.m. and were provided supplies, such as diapers, food and toiletries, as well as a portable cot for Kingston and warm beds for the rest of the family. In the morning they had warm showers and breakfast.
“The Red Cross has been excellent,” Jose said. “I’ve got nothing but nice things to say about the Red Cross.” Jose said he had also been helped by the Red Cross years ago, when he had a fire in his apartment. Jose then excused himself to grab a broom and dustpan and clean up around his family’s cots. “The Red Cross is helping, so I can help, too,” he said.
The atmospheric rivers that pounded California for weeks, with floodwaters and damage remaining long after the storms have subsided. At one point there were as many as 100,000 people in California under evacuation orders or warnings.
Now that the skies have cleared, individuals and families are returning home to evaluate their path back towards recovery. Hundreds of Red Cross disaster workers are continuing to safely shelter those in need, deliver hot food and relief supplies to impacted neighborhoods, and provide much-needed emotional support.
For many, the road to recovery will be long – and the Red Cross will stand with survivors in the weeks and months ahead as they begin to rebuild their lives. You can help people by:
- Making a financial gift to California Storms and Floods. Donations for Disaster Relief enable the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters big and small. Visit redcross.org, call 1-800-RED CROSS, or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.
- Sharing Red Cross updates through your social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or LinkedIn).
- Becoming a Red Cross volunteer: http://tinyurl.com/ARC2023FloodsApplication