This information was last updated on Friday, March 24 at 9:30 a.m.Please check back regularly for updates.
Much of California continues its recovery from yet another round of intense rain and wind earlier this week.
Thursday night 732 people took refuge in 17 Red Cross and partner shelters statewide. Within our region, 530 people were supported in 11 shelters.
The American Red Cross has been helping in California since the atmospheric river onslaught began in late December of last year and is currently responding all over the state alongside local and state officials to help ensure people get the assistance they need.
For an updated map of road/lane closures, please visit the CalTrans QuickMap. Check your route before heading out!
The following shelters are open in anticipation of forecast weather and potential for flooding. Open shelters may also be found online at redcross.org/shelter.
Manteca Senior Center, 295 Cherry Lane, Manteca CA 95337
Salvation Army, Red Shield Community Center, 1649 Las Vegas St, Modesto, CA 95358
Stanislaus Fairgrounds–RV Grounds Outdoor Shelter, 800 N. Broadway Ave, Turlock, CA 95380
Everyone is welcome at Red Cross shelters, and anyone affected by the extreme weather can always stop by the shelter to access Red Cross services, warm up, and contact loved ones regardless of whether or not they choose to stay overnight at the shelter.
Donating Items at Shelters
Please do not drop off items like blankets, toys, food, etc. at Red Cross shelters. We appreciate everyone’s desire to help during a disaster, but the Red Cross does not have the capacity to accept, process, clean, organize or distribute these items. We work with our partners to procure items for our shelters and ensure everyone who comes to our shelters has everything they need.
Stay Up-to-Date on Social Media
Updated information on the Red Cross response to this storm, and preparedness information is updated regularly on our regional social media channels:
While trained Red Cross volunteers and staff continue to manage the response efforts, we are looking for additional volunteers to help with disaster response and recovery activities. Apply online to become a Red Cross volunteer by visiting redcross.org/volunteertodayif you are interested in helping with this response or responses like this in the future.
Blood During Disasters
The Red Cross is working to maintain a stable blood supply amid the threat of storms and winter weather across the country, as severe weather often causes widespread blood drive cancellations. Where it is safe to do so, we encourage donors to make and keep blood donation appointments by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).
Everyone in the family can have an active role in household safety. Prepare with Pedro and The Pillowcase Project – the two American Red Cross educational programs for kindergarten through 5th grade learners – help young students stay safe in case of an emergency.
Fire experts agree that people may have as few as two minutes to safely escape a burning home before it’s too late. This short amount of time is frightening for adults and can be traumatic for children. To help everyone in the household learn how to stay safe before, during, and after an emergency, the Red Cross has created The Pillowcase Project and Prepare with Pedro, two classroom-based programs designed to teach preparedness to students. Prepare with Pedro is designed for kindergartners through second graders, while The Pillowcase Project is geared toward third through fifth graders.
“These programs teach (students) how to act, help them understand what is happening around (them) during an emergency and give them some control over a stressful situation, even when there is not much control possible,” said Ana Romero, Regional Preparedness Manager for the Northern California Coastal Region of the red Cross.
Prepare with Pedro is a 30-to-45-minute storytelling-based presentation designed for students in kindergarten – second grade. Specially-trained Red Cross volunteers visit classrooms and introduce Pedro the Penguin to young students. Reading about Pedro’s adventures in storybooks and with the help of some training exercises, school kids can learn basic preparedness concepts like what a smoke alarm sounds like, what’s important to remember in case of a home fire, protecting themselves during an earthquake, practicing deep breathing to remain calm during an emergency, or how to talk with adults about their feelings after a stressful experience.
Romero explains that the focus of Prepare with Pedro is to build more resilient kids.
“Pedro helps children to develop stronger coping skills. They learn how to manage stress not only during emergencies, but also in their everyday life,” she said. “I was presenting the program in a local school recently when I asked the students if they think that these relaxation techniques, these coping skills, could be applied in some other challenging situations in everyday life, besides an emergency. One of them immediately raised his hand and replied, ‘when we get a vaccine shot!’ and yes, he was right. Those skills are useful in everyday life and the objective of Prepare with Pedro is to build resilient kids prepared to face any unexpected situation.”
Zeien Cheung is the Regional Preparedness Lead for the Prepare with Pedro program, and has been a Red Cross volunteer since 2018. She started her Red Cross journey as a member of the Disaster Cycle Services team helping with the response to the Napa wildfires, but then realized teaching preparedness was a better fit for her. Always passionate about teaching and working with young students, she has vast experience presenting these programs at schools in the Bay Area Chapter. “I believe in equipping young students with knowledge,” she said. “Make them aware of how important preparedness is and how useful learning these things can be.”
The most challenging aspect of presenting these programs, according to Cheung, is capturing the students’ attention. In her role, she oversees volunteers who present these programs at schools and emphasizes that being both a good narrator and able to engage with them are the keys to success.
“Prepare with Pedro is perhaps less involved than The Pillowcase Project, because the students are younger and the activities you can do with them in the classroom are different. But that doesn’t mean that can’t be fun and interactive. I have a Pedro the Penguin stuffed toy that comes with me every time I visit a classroom and the kids love it. It’s an excellent way to connect with them. They ask all kinds of questions about him – where does he live, how old he is, who are his friends – they talk with him and I talk with all of them, using those answers to complement the preparedness knowledge,” Cheung said.
After the presentation, students and their families can continue learning about emergency preparedness through the Prepare with Pedro storybooks, videos and other free resources available for digital download in English and Spanish. There is also a Pedro Fire Safety Challenge for Google Assistant and Alexa-enabled Devices.
“Storybooks and online resources make the children realize that they can have an active role in household safety. Grown-ups at home may not know or not remember how to stay safe during an emergency. We encourage young students to teach others what they learn after Pedro visits their classroom,” Cheung said.
The Red Cross has preparedness programs for all ages: Prepare with Pedro and The Pillowcase Project are for school-aged students and the Be Red Cross Ready presentation is geared toward teens and adults. You can learn more about how to stay safe during emergencies here, or you can sign up to volunteer with the Red Cross and be a preparedness presenter here.
Story and photos by Alex Keilty/American Red Cross
Do you want to give blood but don’t know how? Are you curious about donating blood but aren’t sure what is involved? Join Emmanuel as he goes through the five simple steps of donating whole blood.
1. Book it
The best way to make an appointment is on the American Red Cross Blood Donor app. That is how Emmanuel made his appointment the day before. “It’s too easy with the app,” he says.
You can also make an appointment online at redcrossblood.org or by calling 1-800-RED CROSS.
Pro tip: “Hydrate the day before your appointment,” says Eric Magalued, Team Supervisor at the San Fransisco Blood Center. “The day of the donation: EAT! Have something in your stomach.” Eric has been taking blood donations at the Red Cross for five years. He knows that drinking lots of water the day before and eating before you donate will lesson the chances you will feel dizzy.
2. Check in
The Blood Donor Ambassador at the front desk asks for your donor card and identification (such as a driver’s license). They scan the QR code on your phone if you have a RapidPass. The Ambassador also gives you some material to read about donating blood.
Pro tip: “Complete the RapidPass,” says Eric. Donors can save time by completing a RapidPass which allows them to complete the pre-donation reading and health history questionnaire online, on the day of the donation, from a mobile device or computer.
3. Health history
Complete a private and confidential questionnaire with a trained technician in a separate room or a cubicle. The questionnaire covers topics like travel, medications and health.
The technician gives you a brief physical exam, checking your vital signs, blood pressure, temperature and pulse. They also look at your arm veins to see if they appear suitable for donation and prick your finger for a drop of blood to check your hemoglobin levels.
4. Give blood
Lay down on a reclining chair in the blood collection area and a Phlebotomist will disinfect your inner elbow and insert a brand new, sterile needle there. The needle will draw blood through a tube and into a collection bag. Once the bag is full for a whole blood donation – which is one pint in about 10 minutes – the Phlebotomist will remove the needle and bandage your arm. Other types of donations, like plasma, platelets and Power Red can take up to two hours to complete.
Many people wonder if the needle will hurt. The Red Cross recommends you pinch the fleshy underside of your arm to experience a similar feeling. Emmanuel agrees with that description. He says, “It feels like a pinch, just a split-second pinch.”
Pro tip: If you feel faint, Eric recommends squeezing your legs together to force the blood from your legs back to your heart. Tell the Phlebotomist you are feeling dizzy and then cross your legs, squeeze your inner thigh and stomach muscles, stretch your ankles and hold for five seconds. Repeat five times then switch legs.
5. Snack time
Remain for 10 to 15 minutes longer to ensure you are feeling well after your donation. Get refreshed with a free snack and a drink.
Please don’t forget to make your next donation appointment on the app before you leave.
Emmanuel will be back for sure. He says, “It’s a wonder to think the blood is going to someone who I will never meet, but it’s going to help them.”
Thank you to blood donors like Emmanuel who show up to provide life-saving blood!
A veteran’s transition to civilian life can be tough and sometimes it becomes hard to find a purpose in serving after leaving the U.S. military. But for many veterans, volunteering and responding to community needs is a way to share comradery and apply their unique skills and talents to the needs of their local neighborhood.
On this Veterans Day, we’d like to recognize all the Red Crossers who continue their service after service across the Northern California Coastal Region.
We are honored to have all of them on our team – across counties and lines of service, and we proudly present some of their unique stories:
Daniella Zapata Regional Business Operations Coordinator
At 17 years old, I enlisted in the United States Marine Corps to serve our country. It was my first experience doing something for the greater good and it taught me to think beyond myself and to look out for those around me. On my first day of bootcamp, I was introduced to the Red Cross and its services to our armed forces. A Red Cross card was handed to me to fill out with all the contact information for my unit. This tool would be used by my family if they needed to contact me. The Red Cross would quickly pass on information in case of emergency. Military training was intense, but I had the comfort of knowing that my family could find me if needed.
While in the fleet, I had the pleasure of working as an embark and logistics specialist where I learned valuable skills that continued to be of use after my military service – discipline, hard work and the importance of integrity.
In 2005 Hurricanes Katrina and Rita hit our nation and I felt an overwhelming need to help. The news showed immense devastation and volunteers from the Red Cross were already on-site providing comfort and relief. I immediately checked in with our local Red Cross office, which was buzzing with community members taking various trainings, ready to lend a hand. This was my calling; I knew my experience moving resources in the Marine Corps could be used to help with disaster relief efforts. Within a few weeks, I had taken all the classes needed and was deployed to Texas. The service I was able to provide alongside thousands of other volunteers was immeasurable. We looked into the eyes of those who lost so much and through generous donations from across the nation, we were able to provide hope.
Those moments sparked something in me that has continued to fuel my passion for service through the Red Cross for the past 17 years. Every day I get to work alongside community members who volunteer their time and talents to support our military personnel, assist families after a disaster, provide lifesaving blood, and so much more. I am honored to have the opportunity to continue serving our beloved country.
Diane St. Denis Pacific Division Disaster Health Services Advisor
I spent 3 years in the Navy during the Vietnam War, and it was there that I realized how little I knew about the world. I also saw discrimination and limitations on what I, as a young woman, could expect as far as deployment opportunities, but also made lifelong friends, saw the Blue Angels up close and personal, and met the love of my life, my partner in crime, my Marine, my husband.
As a naive 18-year-old (who thought I was very worldly), I joined the Navy with no idea what to expect – I only knew that I wasn’t ready to do the college thing. After a battery of tests, I was told I was going to Air Traffic Controller “A” school after bootcamp.
I was promoted to AC3, learned how to handle a stressful but exciting job, and how to live on a minuscule paycheck. To this day, Kraft Macaroni & Cheese is a meal near and dear to my heart. All of the experiences I had in the Navy molded much of my future and made me realize how blessed I am to have learned the value of service to others.
After my discharge from the Navy and getting married, I found a job as a police dispatcher, utilizing the skills I learned in my time in service, but I finally recognized that my life was really meant to be in healthcare. Parenthood delayed my nursing education, and it took many years before I finally obtained my nursing license, but it was worth the wait. Nursing is what I was meant to do all along. I joined the Red Cross while I was in Nursing School, and I haven’t looked back.
I have seen many changes in Red Cross over the years. My training in the Navy taught me to deal with adversity, change direction on a dime, value friendships, the importance of organization, and believing in the mission.
I eventually became the Disaster Health Services Lead for my Red Cross Chapter and was later appointed the advisor for the Pacific Division. At some point, I will relinquish the advisor role, and when I do, hope to have more time so that I can become more active in Service to the Armed Forces and serve our military community.
Reflecting on early my life, I learned the value of giving to others from my parents, particularly my mother. The Red Cross allowed me to utilize my nursing skills while helping others in need.
I have devoted myself to a life of service, including volunteering for organizations outside the Red Cross. It all started by serving my country and I continue to do that through my service in the Red Cross. And, like most of us that volunteer, I couldn’t do it without the support of my family. Their support of the mission and my passion allow me to do all that I do.
Kathleen Lenihan Services to the Armed Force Volunteer Partner
I joined the Army Nurse program in 1970 when I was still in nursing school. After graduation I was lucky to be stationed stateside at Fort Ord, California, for a year and then at Letterman Army Medical Center in San Francisco. I was the first army nurse to have a baby and stay on active duty at the Letterman Army Medical Center.
After I was released from active duty, I joined the Army Reserve and provided medical support to the active duty who were in training. We also set up a combat support hospital in various areas of the U.S. and provided medical care for those who were ill or injured during their time in the field.
While I was on one of these training missions, we had a briefing from a Red Cross volunteer who gave us the number for the Hero Care Center to give to our family members. My son was 17 at the time and staying home alone, having this number was a relief. If he needed to get a message to me, he was able to do it through the Hero Care Center, so in my personal experience, it does work.
One of the highlights of my Army Reserve training was going on a medical mission to a small town in the northern Andes mountains, called Cajamarca (Perú), at 9,000ft height. We went there for two and a half weeks and provided medical care to the local residents. We also brought along our veterinary team to provide veterinary care to the animals. Most people don’t realize the number of medical missions that the U.S. military provides throughout the years to countries that have very little medical or veterinary care.
Kathleen is now the Volunteer Partner for the region’s Service to the Armed Forces team, she is a Red Cross representative at the VA Hospital in San Francisco, and she is a member of the Disaster Health Services team, deploying to support people affected by disasters big and small.
Larry Dietz Regional Public Affairs Volunteer Partner
I began my military service in September 1963 when I joined Reserve Officers Training Corps at Northeastern University, Boston. It was either ROTC or gym class, and I hated going to the gym, so it was an easy decision.
I was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant, Military Intelligence, US Army on August 1, 1968. In April 1969 I was assigned to the 509th Radio Research Group in the Republic of Viet Nam, where my first assignment was as a Radio Research Platoon leader in support of the 1st Infantry Division in Quan Loi, Dau Tieng, and Xian.
September 1969 found me reassigned as a Communications Security (COMSEC) Officer and responsible for Crypto Facility inspections. My tour in the Republic of Viet Nam was over in April 1969 and I was released from active duty in September 1970. I served four years in the inactive Army Reserve and was discharged in September 1974.
In 1980 I decided that I wanted to go back into the Reserve and was reappointed as a Captain and commanded the 519th ASA Company, providing support to warfighters such as the Marines and the 7th Infantry Division. Subsequent assignments in the Reserve took me to Dobbins Air Force Base in Georgia.
In August 1989, I joined the Strategic Intelligence section. From July 1997 to February 1998, I served as the Deputy Commander of the Joint Information Campaign Task Force, Sarajevo, Bosnia, and I was promoted to Colonel in November 1998.
After my retirement, in April 2002, I graduated from the US Army War College. I served as a volunteer instructor for deploying personnel at Fort Hunter Liggett in December 2003 and April 2005, and was elected Honorary Colonel of the US Army in 2003, and served in that position until 2010.
In the summer of 1999, I attended a Red Cross Northern California Coast Region Training Symposium in Pebble Beach, Calif. where I was certified as a Public Affairs Associate. I volunteered sporadically until December 2016 when I was assigned as the Volunteer Partner to the Regional Communications Director.
In addition to Public Affairs, I am active in Service to the Armed Forces and serve as an International Humanitarian Law Instructor. I have deployed for the San Jose Flood, numerous wildfires and two mass casualty events.
Being a Red Crosser has certainly afforded me opportunities that I wouldn’t have had otherwise. It’s very refreshing to work for an organization that has a universal humanitarian cause. It feels that you’re actually helping others and Red Cross volunteers are genuinely nice people – they just want to help out and do good.
To learn more about how the Red Cross supports active military, veterans and their families or volunteer to work alongside them to make our communities stronger, visit redcross.org/SAF.
By Sharon J. Alfred, Red Cross, Senior Journalist Volunteer
Edmund Tang started volunteering with the American Red Cross at an early age. He was just 16 years old when he became heavily involved with the Red Cross Youth Corps. During his high school years, Tang was a dual volunteer in both Northern and Southern California regions. Then he went to the University of California – Santa Cruz.
Settling in the Northern California Coastal Red Cross Region (NCCR), Tang found out there were no formal youth programs there so he met with his Red Cross chapter and region team and AmeriCorps representatives to start official youth programs. This four-year project was one of his favorites. Tang proudly asserted that “by the time I left my position in 2021, we had a small Youth Corps in our chapter that was linked to the region’s Youth Corps.”
Now, Tang identifies his main volunteer region as the NCCR, though he sometimes volunteers in the Los Angeles area. He said, “I spend a lot of my other time volunteering in NCCR as a Disaster Action Team (DAT) Administrator and Information & Planning (I&P) Coordinator. I am also a medical responder, assistant station leader for the First Aid Stations team in the LA Region for the annual Rose Parade in Pasadena, CA. I deploy nationally in Disaster Health Services (DHS) as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) and Shelter Associate.”
Tang continues to volunteer with the Red Cross because of the valued connections he makes in the communities. Even as a busy medical student, he keeps up his Red Cross volunteer activities. “On my breaks from school, I schedule myself available to volunteer at any capacity from tabling events, chapter logistics to community events in both the LA region and NCCR, and I also spent some time virtually as a DAT Dispatcher, taking information and sending DAT responders to calls,” he remarked.
Tang plans to remain a Red Cross volunteer for a long time. He loves to hear disaster victims’ stories of recuperation, progress and recovery, such as: “I am fully recovered from the hospital”; or, “my insurance got everything handled”; or, “I finally got my house rebuilt.”
Disaster mental health services are an often lesser-known, behind-the-scenes Red Cross resource that is vitally important to the recovery of families affected by disasters. Equally vital are the disaster mental health volunteers that give their time and expertise in support of those who need them. Enter, Sharon Parker.
Sharon is a dedicated disaster mental health volunteer from Santa Cruz, California. She combines her 30 years of work as a psychotherapist with her humanitarian volunteer service as part of Red Cross disaster responses from coast to coast. Although Santa Cruz County has been the principal beneficiary of her many talents, Sharon’s volunteer work has served countless people both throughout Northern and Central California and across the nation.
“When any of us is affected, we are all affected — either directly or indirectly,” she said. “Individuals and communities need a boost in the wake of a disaster, large or small. I’ve belonged to a community of ‘helpers’ for more than 30 years, and I am proud to be part of an organization that steps in following a devastating event and effectively and impartially plays a direct role in easing people’s suffering.”
Sharon enjoys being on the ground, reaching affected communities and helping folks move forward after a life-changing event like a disaster. From cooperating with her fellow Red Crossers on a “common mission to be of service”, to seeing the work she does become part of a solution to a difficult life situation, to connecting families with local resources so that they may begin the long road to recovery, the time and energy that Sharon dedicates to the Red Cross mission has resulted in many memories and experiences that have remained with her, even years later.
Another aspect of Sharon’s work as a disaster mental health volunteer is being present and offering support to her colleagues who are also deployed. “For example, if we notice a case worker, or another volunteer who is showing signs of needing a break, we approach them and ask if they’d like to take a brief walk, have a bottle of water, or in some other way give them a bit of respite,” she said. She also makes check-in calls, offering counseling and support when fellow Red Crossers come back home after a deployment.
For all this work and more, Sharon was recently honored with the Clara Barton Award for Meritorious Volunteer Leadership for the Central Coast Chapter of the Red Cross. Named after the founder of the organization, this special award highlights the significant contributions of volunteers who serve in a series of leadership positions held over a period of years. It is the highest honor of volunteer achievement at the chapter level.
Throughout an ever-changing landscape and advancements in mission delivery and technology, Sharon has met every obstacle with a willingness to learn and adapt, striving to provide better service to those in need.
“I am humbled by having been nominated for — and then received (!) — the Clara Barton Award for Meritorious Leadership,” she said of the recognition. “This is particularly true because I know very many other volunteers who are truly much more deserving.”
When asked what advice she would lend to those who may be interested in becoming part of the Red Cross team, she recommends talking with several current volunteers, to gain perspectives regarding the roles they might like to explore. “There really are so many ways to be of service!” she said.
Sharon is a true example of compassion and empathy, and volunteers like her honor the legacy of our founder. Thank you and congratulations on this well-deserved award, Sharon!