Tag Archives: California Wildfires (2017)

Fire Weather Warnings Mark the 2017 California Wildfires Anniversary

north-bay-fires_full-sizeTwo years ago today, our counties were struck by one of the most devastating disasters in recent memory. It has been extraordinary, and humbling, to see our communities come together and build back stronger from that terrible event.

Exactly two years to the day after the North Bay Fires, we are facing the nearly identical wind and fuel conditions lasting through the middle of this week. Fortunately, our community has learned important lessons and taken strong early action.

In response to the Fire Weather Watch warnings, Red Cross volunteers are mobilizing to ensure equipment, supplies, and teams are ready to go at a moment’s notice if needed. The Red Cross is in regular communication with government partners to determine potential needs in case a wildfire breaks out. As Emergency Operations Centers (EOCs) open or are put on standby, Red Cross Government Liaisons are staffing them and ensuring availability of Red Cross services are known and requested as appropriate.

PG&E’s largest planned power outage yet could coincide with the two-year anniversary of the North Bay fires, a fall forecast combining at least three factors — hot weather, low humidity and strong winds — not seen since the October 2017 firestorm prompting the utility to consider shutting off electricity Wednesday and Thursday in up to 30 Northern and Central California counties. The advisory, affecting millions of residents and appears to exempt only two counties in PG&E’s service territory, Marin and San Francisco. No times or specific areas of the counties were mentioned. Updates will be posted on PG&E’s website, and the utility will also try to contact customers ahead of a shutoff.

Power Outage Preparedness
Visit http://www.redcross.org/prepare for detailed preparedness information.

Below are three simple steps you and your family can take to be ready, should there be an extended power outage that lasts multiple days:

1) Get a kit.

  • Your emergency kit should contain food, water, and other basic supplies to last at least SEVEN days, for each family member.
    • Water – 3 gallons per person per day, a gallon per mid-size pet for every three days
    • Food – non-perishable, nutritious food that requires little or no water or cooking to prepare that will meet the needs of your household
    • Battery-powered or hand-crank radio and extra batteries
    • Flashlights and extra batteries
    • Phone Chargers – A battery-operated or solar-powered phone charger that is big enough to provide several full charges, or one that plugs into your car, plus cords in each of your kits will help you stay informed, take photos, and communicate in an emergency
    • Cash – Keep small bills and change on hand to buy necessary supplies like water.
  • Also, don’t forget to include essential medications, first aid kit, copies of important documents, and special items for children and pets.

2) Make a plan.

  • If you rely on electric or battery-dependent medical technologies such as breathing machines, a power wheelchair or scooter, home oxygen or dialysis or take medications that need refrigeration, it is critical that you have a plan in place for an extended power outage.
  • Know how to manually open your garage door.
  • Fill your gas tank
  • Charge all your devices; Identify backup charging methods for phones and keep hard copies of emergency numbers
  • Include your pets in your emergency plans. Remember, if you and your family need to evacuate, so does your pet. It’s important to know in advance to know which pet-friendly hotels are in your area, and where your pets can stay in an emergency
  • Plan what to do in case you are separated from your family during an emergency and what to do if you have to evacuate.
  • Make sure to coordinate your plan with your child’s school, your work, and your community’s emergency plans.

3) Be informed.

  • Be informed about which emergencies may occur where you live, work and play, and how to respond as safely as possible.
  • Find out how your local officials will send out emergency alerts during a local disaster (Nixle or other alert notifications system) and sign up to receive their notifications.

 

Safety during a Power Outage
Visit www.redcross.org/poweroutage for full power outage safety information.

Regardless of the reason for their occurrence, power outages can be frustrating and troublesome. For prolonged power outages, there are ways that you can minimize loss and keep everyone as comfortable as possible.

  • Use flashlights in the dark — not candles.
  • Eliminate unnecessary travel, especially by car. Traffic lights will be out, and roads will be congested.
  • Turn off and unplug all unnecessary electrical equipment.
  • Turn off or disconnect any appliances — such as stoves — equipment and electronics that you were using when the power went out. When power comes back on, surges or spikes can damage equipment.
  • Leave one light on, so you’ll know when power is restored.

If a power outage is two hours or less, don’t be concerned about losing perishable foods. During a prolonged outage, keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to protect your food.

  • First, use perishable food from the refrigerator. Perishables are safe to eat when they have a temperature of 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below. Then, use food from the freezer.
  • If the power outage continues beyond a day, prepare a cooler with ice for your freezer items. Keep food in a dry, cool spot, and cover it at all times.

If you are using a generator, keep it dry and don’t use it in wet conditions.

  • Never use a generator, grill, camp stove or other gasoline, propane, natural gas or charcoal-burning devices inside a home, garage, basement, crawlspace or any partially enclosed area. Keep these devices outside away from doors, windows, and vents, which could allow carbon monoxide to come indoors.
  • Operate the generator on a dry surface under an open canopy-like structure, such as under a tarp held up by poles.
  • Don’t touch a generator with wet hands.
  • Turn the generator off and let it cool down before refueling. Gasoline spilled on hot engine parts could ignite.
  • Plug appliances directly into the generator. Never try to power the house wiring by plugging the generator into a wall outlet.

Download the free Red Cross Emergency App for additional power outage safety information right at your fingertips.

  • The Emergency App provides real-time weather alerts and tips on how to stay safe during power outages and countless other emergencies.
  • Search “American Red Cross” in app stores or go to redcross.org/apps.

 

Remembering last fall’s Northern California fires

north-bay-fires_full-sizeDuring the devastating Northern California fires this past October, every person who fled their homes — and in many cases, lost them —  has a story to tell. So do the many Red Cross people who heroically stepped up to help in response to one of the most destructive weeks of fires in the state’s history.

Read our 2017 California Wildfires One-Year Stewardship Report

Read more

The Enduring Impact of Fire Relief in 2017

A note from Stephanie Willett, Regional Director, Development Operations & Foundations:

I’m summarizing the attachments as slightly tricky to read.

A lovely note from Kyra Janssen in Santa Rosa. A gentleman gave Kyra a “fire discount” on a new coffee table. She’s working to “recreate a new home” after hers was destroyed on October 9th last year in the North Bay Fires. He also offered to make a gift to an organization of her choice. She asked him to make a gift to the Red Cross.

The note was sent with a $50 check to us – and with thanks to the Red Cross from both of them.

As our recovery work on multiple California wildfires continues, and as we jump with energy into supporting relief operations for so many impacted by the current storms – I’m so moved by this note, sent almost a year after Kyra lost her home. To me, this note speaks to the incredible strength of our Red Cross team and the enduring impact of our work for so many people.

 – 

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Lake County Wildfire Anniversary: “30 Days Later – The California Wildfires Response”

This article was originally published on October 12, 2015.

Immediate Collaboration 

anniversary 1The ongoing drought across California has given way to another historic wildfire season. Beginning September 9, 2015, two of the most destructive wildfires in state history flared throughout northern California. The Valley Fire is now the third most destructive fire in state history and the Butte Fire the seventh most destructive blaze. Combined, these fires burned more than 150,000 square acres and destroyed more than 1,700 homes, displacing thousands of families. Read more

Quiet Gratitude

Below are the contents of a letter sent to our offices by a grateful recipient of Red Cross services during the North Bay wildfires. They asked to remain anonymous but were happy to share their perspective.

June 27, 2018

Dear Red Cross Angels,

When the fire devoured [my home], it vaporized every vestige of my life, including my very identity-and it nearly vaporized me. I escaped, barefoot, with only seconds to spare. As I approached the Veterans Memorial Hall, at around 4:30 AM., I was struck by the realization that, for the first time in my adult life (at age 77), I was utterly helpless and at the mercy of strangers. For a man who had always felt extremely strong, capable, and independent, it was a shock, and I was apprehensive about what might lie before me. Read more

CalNW ED praises community in KSRO interview

CalNW Chapter Executive Director Jeff Baumgartner spoke with KSRO’s Pat Kerrigan to discuss the California Wildfires Six-Month Update from the Red Cross. Baumgartner recalled the Red Cross response and confirmed that recovery would likely take one to three years. Baumgartner described the vast number of community partners involved in the recovery effort and stated it would be an opportunity to build back community systems and infrastructure with more insight into future needs. He also recognized the deep generosity of the broader community in their combined response efforts saying that the level of community response was “extremely impressive.”

Click here to listen to the full interview on KSRO.

Click here to access the California Wildfires Six-Month Update.

 

 

 

Trial by fire: When the good work of the Red Cross hits home

By Macy McClung, AmeriCorps member

My experience during the Northern California wildfires in October 2017, specifically within my new role at the Red Cross, changed my life. I woke up one morning in Houston, where I had been assigned to the Hurricane Harvey relief efforts in my AmeriCorps role as a Red Cross worker. I learned on social media that my home town in California was burning. I called my parents and woke them up, prepared them for what could come next, and arranged to leave Houston immediately. Read more

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