Tag Archives: Bay Area

Red Cross teams continue to support the many residents affected by regional wildfires

Since mid-August, when many of the wildfires described below started in our region, we have been updating this post on a regular basis. Now that most of our efforts are focused on helping residents as part of the recovery phase of this Red Cross response, we will only update this post if future circumstances warrant.


Please see the information below that summarizes all of the great work our volunteers, employees, and partners have done to support our communities. We are also so appreciative of the donors whose generosity makes our work possible.

Background: The lightning storms that swept through our Northern California Coastal Region in mid-August caused a number of large and destructive fires in our chapter areas, prompting quick responses by our region’s Red Cross teams. Other fires subsequently started in our region in September, including the Glass Fire in Napa and Sonoma Counties.

Working alongside our government and community partners, Red Cross teams — comprising responders from inside and outside our region — have provided shelter, food, and comfort to the many residents impacted by these wildfires.


Here is information about the wildfires that have occurred in our region since mid-August:

  • Glass Fire (active): This wildfire, in Napa and Sonoma Counties, had burned 67,484 acres by Friday morning, October 16, with 97% containment. At that time, Red Cross teams were still on the ground in the affected area, working — with our community partners — to support evacuees.
  • SCU Lightning Complex: This originally comprised approximately 20 fires between Santa Clara, Alameda, Contra Costa, San Joaquin, and Stanislaus Counties. This fire, which burned 396,624 acres, is considered 100% contained.
  • CZU August Complex: This fire, forcing widespread evacuations in San Mateo and Santa Cruz Counties, was listed by CalFire as 86,509 acres in size with 100% containment.
    • Most recently, the Red Cross supported a mobile recovery center that Santa Cruz County organized in Boulder Creek, providing resources and disaster relief items, such as sifters, disaster kits, gloves, and shovels to community members who are returning to their properties.
    • CalFire incident web site
  • River and Carmel, and Dolan Fires, Monterey County: The River Fire, which burned 48,088 acres, and Carmel Fire, which burned 6,905 acres, are both considered 100% contained; the Dolan Fire was up to 124,924 acres at 98% containment.
  • Woodward Fire, Marin County: This fire, which burned 4,929 acres, is considered 100% contained.

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How we have supported residents affected by the wildfires that have occurred in our region since mid-August:

As of October 15, two months after the fires started in the Northern California Coastal Region …

  • Nearly 120 Red Crossers were still working to provide food, shelter, relief supplies and comfort to people affected by the wildfires.
  • Since August 17, the Red Cross and our partners had provided nearly 120,000 overnight stays during the wildfire response.
  • With the help of partners, the Red Cross had provided more than 133,000 meals and snacks and distributed more than 1,150 cases of water.
  • More than 20,000 disaster relief items, including comfort kits and other emergency and clean-up supplies, had been distributed to more than 4,000 households.
  • Volunteers had also provided more than 10,700 individual care contacts to help people with medical or disability needs or provide emotional and spiritual support during this challenging time.

This is in response to fires that have burned more than a million acres, destroyed or damaged thousands of homes and other structures, and forced the evacuation of thousands of people.

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Recovery Overview:

As the American Red Cross transitions into the recovery phase for these wildfire disaster response, residents still in need of disaster services will have continued access to those services as needed on a case-by-case basis. All Red Cross services, including financial assistance, are available to individuals regardless of nationality, race, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, class, or political opinions. The Red Cross is a charity, not a government agency, and people do not need to be American citizens to receive our help.

The Red Cross is continuing to offer all available recovery services and resources to these residents, including casework; shelf-stable meal and emergency supply distribution; and health, mental health, financial and spiritual care services. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many of these services will be offered virtually; for all in-person recovery efforts, CDC-recommended guidelines, PPE, and social distancing will be enforced.

The Red Cross works with local governments and community partners to help residents rebuild and recover. This can include local city, state, and federal resources and nonprofit organizations.

Affected residents should also visit redcross.org/wildfire for important safety information before returning to their home. Taking added precautions in an area that has recently experienced a fire will help ensure you and your family’s safety.

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  • Having returned home after their Glass Fire evacuation, a Santa Rosa couple expressed gratitude for the Red Cross assistance they received. Read their story.
  • Almost two dozen staff members from Esalen Institute were among the evacuees from the destructive Dolan Fire, giving them a front-row seat to the Red Cross response. Read their story.
  • A Red Cross volunteer writes about the important role the Latino Engagement Team has played during this response. Read his story.

    Karen Stickler, her husband, and their dog found comfort and caring in a safe Red Cross shelter in Vacaville. (Photo: Kathleen Maclay)

  • Bill Corbin and his family, evacuated from their Santa Clara County home, appreciated the overnight accommodations the Red Cross provided — and a followup call from a volunteer nurse. Read their story.
  • BreAnna Sanabria, a volunteer from Highland, California, felt the power of simply sharing a smile. Read her story.
  • An award-winning actor and his friend rolled up their sleeves, joining other volunteers to build re-entry kits for evacuees returning home. Read his story.
  • American Red Cross volunteer Anne Johnson, deploying all the way from Alaska, saw a Central Coast client’s needs all the way through. Read her story.
  • Dennis Patterson of Santa Cruz evacuated then moved from backyard to backyard with his tent until he found safe shelter with the Red Cross. Read his story.
  • Vacaville area resident Karen Stickler, her husband, and their dog fled their home because of the LNU Fire, eventually finding a Red Cross shelter where they received care and comfort. Read their story.
  • Waiting to learn the fate of her own home, which was in the path of the CZU Fire, Linnea Dunn did what brings great satisfaction to her: She helped others as a Red Cross volunteer. Read her story.

For an index of blog posts related to this disaster response, please go to this site.

We also continue to add other photos to our regional Flickr album related to this disaster response. (Thanks to our volunteer photographers!)

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Messages to our (amazing) volunteers, employees, and partners:

  • In an August 25 message to American Red Cross volunteers in the Northern California Coastal Region (NCCR), CEO Jennifer Adrio expresses her gratitude for the work that so many — from inside and outside our region — are doing as part of this large disaster response. She also saluted the many Red Crossers for the mission-critical work they are continuing to do outside of this DR.
  • In an October 5 message, NCCR CEO Jennifer Adrio reiterated her thanks for work that Red Crossers have done since a succession of wildfires began in our region in mid-August. “I am more proud than I can say, really, of everything that our amazing volunteers, our dedicated staff, and our committed partners have done during these past seven weeks,” she said.

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Regional TV telethons help the Red Cross help the many people affected by wildfires:

  • KPIX-TV (CBS, Channel 5 in the Bay Area) hosted a telethon on August 24 to raise vital funds for the Red Cross’ California Wildfire Disaster Relief work. People were able to participate in this fundraising event by calling 1-855-848-GIVE (4483) or by making an online donation via this special Red Cross site. We are so thankful for the partnership with KPIX and for the generosity of the many donors who participated in this important fundraising effort!
  • KGO-TV (ABC, Channel 7 in the Bay Area) hosted a telethon on September 17 to raise vital funds for the Red Cross’ Western Wildfire Disaster Relief work. The telethon was done in coordination with other ABC stations, including those in Los Angeles, San Diego, Fresno, Eugene, and Spokane. People were able to participate in this fundraising event by calling 1-866-499-GIVE (4483) or by making an online donation via this special Red Cross site. We are so thankful for the partnership with Disney/ABC and for the generosity of the many donors who participated in this important fundraising effort!
  • KSBW-TV (NBC/ABC, Channel 8 in the Central Coast) hosted a telethon on September 22 to raise vital funds for the Red Cross’ California Wildfire Disaster Relief work. People were able to participate in this fundraising event by calling 1-866-499-GIVE (4483) or by making an online donation via this special Red Cross site. Thank you to KSBW for the station’s incredible support, and thank you to the many donors whose generosity made this important fundraising event so successful!

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  • The status of shelters can change rapidly during a disaster. If you are unsure about the location of open shelters in your area, please go to redcross.org/shelter.
  • If you’ve been affected by any of these fires and are in need of assistance, please call us 24/7 at 1-800-RedCross (1-800-733-2767) . All assistance is free, thanks to the work of our volunteers and the generosity of our donors.
  • During a disaster, stay connected with loved ones by visiting the Red Cross Safe and Well website at redcross.org/safeandwell to reconnect with loved ones. The site allows individuals and organizations to register and post messages to indicate that they are safe or to search for loved ones. You can also use the “I’m Safe” feature of the Red Cross Emergency App to let loved ones know your status. The free App — which also has other very useful features — is available for smartphones and tablets; just go to redcross.org/apps.
  • This regional press release summarizes some of our early work during this Disaster Response and provides disaster preparation and COVID-safety tips. See release.
  • How has our Red Cross disaster response work been modified because of the pandemic? See this story.
  • How to prepare for disasters, including additional steps during COVID. See this story.
  • It’s easy to overlook the mental health needs of people affected by fires. In this regional press release, we provide tips on how to cope — and help others cope — with the stress. See release.
  • For the safety of our shelter residents and workers, the Red Cross is unable to accept in-kind or material donations of any kind right now. Due to increased safety measures for COVID-19, storing, sorting, cleaning and distributing donated items could be especially risky.
  • You can support our disaster-response work in two very important ways: Become a Red Cross volunteer and/or make a financial donation.
    • Become a volunteer: Please consider getting trained as a Shelter Worker so that you can help us help others during wildfires and other large disasters. For more information and/or to start your application process; just go today to redcross.org/volunteer/become-a-volunteer.html.
    • Make a financial donation: Just go here and designate your gift for Disaster Relief. Thank you so very much!

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Please continue to share this important information with others as needed. Thank you!

A leader in ‘a beautiful circle of caring’

By Marcia Antipa

Red Cross Gala 2015

Lillian Phan

This is the story of Lillian Phan, a bright and accomplished young woman, who also happens to be a stellar volunteer with the American Red Cross. Like so many American stories, Lillian’s begins with immigration, determination, and hard work.

Lillian’s parents immigrated from Vietnam, sponsored by a Christian organization that gave them a head start with food and shelter. Eventually, the Phans moved to Santa Clara County. Both had to overcome the language barrier and reinvent themselves.

“My Dad gave up architecture and became a nuclear engineer. My mom gave up her law degree.”

Read more

Celebration to commemoration: Red Cross thanks 2020 Gala supporters

Due to the uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19, we made the difficult decision to cancel our annual American Red Cross San Francisco Gala event this year to protect the members of our community and guests. Under usual circumstances, the Gala is a moment when we honor both an outstanding corporation and a dedicated individual who have furthered the Red Cross mission in the Bay Area. Our 2020 Red Cross Philanthropic Company of the Year, The Clorox Company, and 2020 Red Cross Humanitarian of the Year, Chief Eric Reinbold of the Paradise Police Department, will be honored at our 2021 event. But we want to take a moment to recognize them now. Read more

Persevering during COVID-19

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A scene from a blood drive in March 2020. | Photo: American Red Cross

The 2020 Chabot College Nursing class was on track to graduate come May. A mere 65 additional clinical hours stood between the students and the culmination of two years of constant hard work. Once completed, all of the tears shed, the financial burden and the time spent would count for something; they would graduate with their Associate’s Degree in Nursing, propelling them into their future within the medical field. But as soon as COVID-19 started to rear its head in the U.S., hospitals began cutting preceptorships as a means to limit the potential spread of the virus. Read more

Northern California Coastal Region supports vets with comfort kits

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SAF Director Go Funai, Kathleen Lenihan, Marilyn Byington, Leeann Woodward, and Julianna Jaynes deliver comfort kits to the San Francisco VA Medical Center.  Photo: Nanette Shamieh | American Red Cross

The Covid-19 pandemic has hampered more than a few activities, but it has also spawned a number of opportunities. For example, shelter in place orders forced the canceling of several stand downs. A stand down is an event hosted for veterans where they can avail themselves of a variety of resources in one place. Resources include medical and dental treatment as well as haircuts in a safe and secure temporary environment.

Each veteran attending receives a comfort kit. These kits typically include a toothbrush, toothpaste, washcloth, shaving cream, razor, shampoo, etc. According to Kathleen Lenihan, a retired Army Officer and Service to Armed Forces volunteer, “Walmart and other generous partners donate money, goods or make the kits.”

And with the cancellation of stand downs, a number of kits that were going unused.

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A surprise phone call: one woman’s American Red Cross story

By Marcia Antipa

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Abby and son, Carl, in 1967.

In October of 1966, Abby Chapman and Carl Borders had been married just a year and a half, when Carl shipped off to Vietnam. Abby had just learned that she was pregnant with their first child. The war and the pregnancy would bring the American Red Cross into her life for the first time.

As a recent medical school graduate, Carl was in high demand in wartime. He was assigned to a new Army MUST field hospital in Tay Ninh. MUST stands for Medical Unit, Self-contained, Transportable.

“I felt as though he was fairly safe there, and he wasn’t. Mortars were attacking his company and the hospital. It was very disheartening for me to think this was where he was going.”

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