Red Cross volunteers load bags of groceries into the trunk of a car occupied by a San Benito County family in need of food assistance.
As California endures a third month of the COVID-19 outbreak and its many associated challenges, the American Red Cross has stepped up to provide hope and help wherever possible — including lending a hand to its community partners.
On Friday, May 22, workers from the Central Coast Chapter joined First 5 San Benito County to support a food distribution event in Hollister. During the COVID-19 shutdown, many families have struggled with a lack of income due to record unemployment; the food provided at these events is a vital resource for many who can no longer afford a trip to the grocery store. The day was a successful one, but tough, and required a lot of effort and coordination. Thanks to decades of experience in disaster response, the Red Cross was able to jump in and do what it does best: serve others. Read more
The past six weeks have been unusually quiet in Northern California. The COVID-19 outbreak has forced much of the population indoors on shelter-in-place orders. For many, the 9-to-5 workday is a recent memory; classrooms are eerily silent. Parking lots nationwide sit empty; all but essential storefronts are closed indefinitely. The entire country has seemingly ground to a halt.
And yet, there are segments of the American workforce that forge on stronger than ever: intrepid healthcare workers, food service employees, first responders, and American Red Cross volunteers and employees. As the largest humanitarian aid organization in the country, the work of the Red Cross is constant, as is our commitment to helping those that need us.
It’s a rainy, chilly Tuesday in Fairfield, Calif., the spring blooms drooping under the March wet. The forecast mirrors the national mood amidst the COVID-19 pandemic: a sober longing for warmer, brighter days.
Inside the American Red Cross Solano County chapter office, the outlook is undeniably more optimistic. In place of the normal tables and chairs are padded beds, techs bustling about in red scrubs, glass vials, plastic tubing, gauze and the ubiquitous red blood drop stress balls. The office’s Red Cross inhabitants have made room to welcome a new team and a lifesaving service: a blood drive. Read more
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.
30 Years Later, the Loma Prieta Earthquake Response Remains Jim Aldrich’s Most Difficult
Galveston Island had seen better days. Hurricane Jerry had battered the Texas barrier island cum tourist haunt the day before, leaving flooded roads strewn with flotsam and sand dunes pummeled into the mud. Jim Aldrich of the American Red Cross, who was in Galveston as part of the organization’s recovery effort, had just settled in to watch Game 3 of the World Series from his hotel room. The game’s telecast, aired live from San Francisco, suddenly scratched with static as the frame jerked and spasmed. There was confusion, shouting.
“We’re having an earth-” someone said before the live feed cut to black.
An aerial view of the collapsed section of the Cypress Structure. The 6.9 earthquake caused the top deck of the highway to fall onto the lower deck, killing 42 people.
It was October 17, 1989, and Northern California had just experienced a catastrophic event, the Loma Prieta earthquake. The 6.9 tremor ravaged homes, infrastructure, and lives from Monterey Bay through the Bay Area, leaving 66 people dead, thousands injured, and tens of thousands homeless. Like Jim, millions watched the quake strike in real time on live television.
The Red Cross contacted Jim, an employee from St. Louis, within hours of the now-cancelled World Series game; he would trade the Texas Gulf Coast for a new deployment to the earthquake response in California. Having 8+ years with the Red Cross and ample disaster experience under his belt, he felt up to the job. However, as he would learn over the next three months, the Loma Prieta response would be the most challenging of his career.
To commemorate the 30th anniversary of the devastating Loma Prieta Earthquake, our region has been gathering stories from people who experienced the quake three decades ago in an effort to encourage preparedness today. The following is a story from 2014.
The long-term relationship between Patsy Gasca, center, and the American Red Cross began the same day the Loma Prieta Earthquake struck almost 30 years ago. This week, the Disaster Program Manager for the Central Coast Chapter took a minute to pose for a photo with Red Cross colleagues Michele Averill (left), chapter CEO, and Camilla Boolootian, regional development officer.
By Carlos M. Rodriguez
October 17, 1989, started off as an ordinary day for Patsy Gasca. But at 5:04 p.m., the Loma Prieta earthquake struck Northern California, causing widespread damage from the San Francisco metropolis to the much smaller towns in Monterey and Santa Cruz counties. The 6.9-magnitude earthquake shook the ground for 15 seconds, changing Patsy’s life forever. Before the day was done, the 28-year-old Santa Cruz mother of three would volunteer as a case worker, beginning what has become a 25-year love affair with the American Red Cross. Read more