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Special delivery to Cobb Mountain


by Kathleen Maclay, volunteer contributor, American Red Cross

As Red Cross volunteers were dispatched Monday, Oct. 5th in response to torrential rains and flooding on the East Coast, Red Crossers assigned to the West Coast after the Northern California Valley Fire made a special delivery of supplies for a hard-hit Cobb Mountain community.

Leaders of the Mountain Lion’s Club in Cobb, located on state Highway 175, asked for specific items that they said residents needed after their community was finally reopened after the lifting of mandatory evacuation orders that came as the fire roared toward Cobb nearly a month ago.

A Red Cross crew working out of nearby Middletown worked to unload sleeping bags, ice chests, blankets, shovels, camp chairs, tents, charcoal, cots, pallets of ready-to-eat meals, and more than 300 sifters specially made by Redwood Empire Council Boy Scouts of America of Sonoma and Mendocino counties.

Rose Geck, a 31-year resident of Cobb and a Lion’s Club volunteer who helped direct the unloading of supplies, said the community is incredibly grateful for the emergency and recovery response it has witnessed.

“The landscape here will be changed for many, many years,” she said.  “It will take a long time for the Old Cobb to come back.  It will actually be the New Cobb.  There’s a lot of hope.”

Saved by the Church Bell

By Taelor Duckworth, volunteer contributor, American Red Cross

Many folks in the Middletown area know that the United Methodist Church in Middletown was the site of the Red Cross Client Assistance Center for several days. People affected by the Valley fire could go there to find help and resources available from the Red Cross. (It has since moved to the Twin Pine Casino.)

What many don’t know, is that the church has long been a sanctuary for evacuees of any disaster. In fact, in the midst of the Valley fire erupting, the Middletown UMC church bell was used to signal the alarm for townspeople to evacuate. Read more

Scout behind Sifter project meets Valley Fire residents


by Kathleen Maclay, volunteer contributor, American Red Cross

Evan Jacobs, the Santa Rosa 7th-grader who spearheaded a project building free sifter boxes for residents affected by the Valley Fire, met Saturday with Cobb Mountain residents who are sharing the items constructed by Evan, his fellow scouts with the Redwood Empire Council, Boy Scouts of America in Sonoma and Mendocino counties, and a range of eager partners.

The boy modestly accepted kudos at the Mountain Lions’ Club in Cobb, which had a fresh supply of the items quickly produced by Evan and dozens of other scouts in between classes, homework and a bit of sleep.  The scouts did the hammering, while adult leaders in the council handled the power tools.

“People are going through a lot of water, and a lot of sifters,” said Johnny Cappa, president of the Mountain Lions’ Club, where sifters were being distributed to anyone with the need.

Danny Ventress of Cobb stopped by the club house to lend a hand sharing supplies from sifter boxes to clean-up kits from the Red Cross, dog bones and gloves to sleeping bags. While his own home is safe to return to, Ventress said he’s been busy helping friends and neighbors sift through the charred remains of their homes.

“That’s great,” said Ventress after inspecting the council’s sifter boxes. “The boys ought to be darned proud.”

Among the business partners supporting the Redwood Empire Council were Agwood Mill and Lumber in Ukiah, which contributed all the lumber and pre-cut it to size; local Coldwell Banker agents who made financial donations; Lowe’s hardware, which discounted prices on materials and transported them; and Amy’s Kitchen, which offered up its parking lot for a maker space for the scouts.

The boy scouts are prepared to provide more sifters if the need arises.

A Friend to Four-Legged Evacuees

By Eric Maldonado, volunteer contributor, American Red Cross

Mark Scott, senior animal control officer and operations supervisor for the Petaluma Animal Shelter has been working around the clock since the Valley Fire erupted on Sept. 12, 2015.

When he received the request from authorities to handle animal control, Mark immediately jumped into action. The first night, as evacuees filed into Napa Fairgrounds Shelter, he saw families bringing in their cats, dogs, horses, goats and other types of animals.

As he saw the large numbers of furry friends and their people seeking safety at the fairgrounds, Mark thought to himself, “This is going to be bigger than we think.”

He knew supplies were going to be in short supply, so he used the power of social media to ask the public for supplies. Their response was immediate. As soon as donors were dropping off food and supplies, there were recipients picking them up.

As the fires continued to burn, Mark conducted search and rescue for animals in distress. He brought the animals he found to the Middletown Animal Hospital where they could be reunited with their owners.

More recently, Mark has been operating the mobile animal shelter, where residents staying at the Red Cross Shelter at the Twin Pine Casino and Hotel can check their pets in for the night or just while they sign up for Red Cross assistance. He’s knows he is providing peace of mind for pet owners while they work, sleep or seek help from one of the many relief organizations.

Mark will be going back to his day-to-day operations soon, but he’s leaving behind a several kennels, lined with used Red Cross blankets for warmth; a pop-up canopy for shade; food; and leashes for anyone who might need to use them.

Mark cares for animals so much because in his words, “It’s like helping a child, they’re defenseless. The dog can’t say thank you, but at the end of the day, you know you did something good.”

Boy Scouts Build Sifter Boxes for Valley Fire Victims

By Eric Maldonado, volunteer contributor, American Red Cross

Evan Jacobs, 11, kept close track of the Valley Fire since it started. Every day he looked at the morning newspaper to stay up to date on the firefighters’ progress. His mother, Danelle Jacobs, would even take him to the airport to see the air tankers take off to fight the flames.

Evan wondered what they could do to help those in need. “I was thinking of what my little Cub Scouts could do,” Danelle said. “Then I thought, sifter boxes!”

The group originally built 50 sifters and called the American Red Cross to see if they could help out in any other way. They asked, “Can you build 4,000?” Without hesitating, she answered that they could.

So on a Wednesday night in Santa Rosa, dozens of Boy Scouts and their parents began to assemble 4,000 sifter boxes for those affected by the Valley Fire.

Danelle Jacobs with Steve Countouriotis, Board Chair, American Red Cross of the California Northwest

Danelle Jacobs with Steve Countouriotis, Board Chair, American Red Cross of the California Northwest

These boxes are desperately needed by local residents as they search through the ashes of their homes. Each box brings them closer to finding precious mementos and memories.

As a Scout, Evan feels he has an obligation to assist those in need. “I was seeing all the thousands of homes that were destroyed and thought the Scouts should help,” he said. “I think it’s cool to see all the Scouts building sifter boxes and spending their time helping the victims of the Valley Fire.”

The sifter building project would not be possible without the help of the following generous partners: The Boy Scouts of America Packs of the Redwood Empire Council; Agwood Mill and Lumber in Ukiah for generously donating all of the lumber and pre-cutting it to size; Coldwell Banker agents for their financial donations; Lowe’s for generously discounting the rest of the needed supplies and providing transportation of the materials; and Amy’s Kitchen for kindly providing their parking lot as a space for the Boy Scouts to gather and to build.

Nearly Trapped by the Valley Fire: An Escape Story

By Taelor Duckworth, volunteer contributor, American Red Cross

Saturday, September 12th, 2015 began much like any other for Terran Compton of Cobb, Calif. He woke up, made his way to the kitchen and began the task of searching for jobs. The 18-year-old has been looking for work in Lake County since he graduated from high school without much luck. He and his 11-year-old brother had the house to themselves because his mother was working at Twin Pine Hotel & Casino where she is a waitress.

In the early afternoon, he realized something wasn’t quite right. He looked out his window and saw thick, dark gray clouds of smoke and a man from his neighborhood running through the streets screaming, “FIRE!” Terran didn’t worry though. There had been several fire calls before, but nothing ever close to their property. He didn’t think it would come toward them.

When Terran’s mother pulled into their driveway at the end of the winding mountain road shortly after, she told him they needed to evacuate. They grabbed only the essentials and loaded them into the car, along with their two dogs. Read more

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