Tag Archives: Flooding

Meet Gene Beck Memorial Volunteer of the Year Award Recipient Betsy Witthohn

Betsy Witthohn 420x279From the ashes of wildfires rise everyday heroes. Betsy Witthohn is one of them.

After reaching safety, the fire survivor recounts how time stood still two years ago until mandatory evacuation orders were lifted. Her mind was preoccupied with anxiety as she feared for the worst.

Returning to the area, she found the flames spared her residence. Many nearby were not as fortunate. That experience served as a catalyst to becoming a Red Cross volunteer. Her husband joined, as well.

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I’m still useful

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Ki Daniels poses in front of the Sebastopol Center for the Arts, where she was staying in an American Red Cross evacuation shelter after flood waters from the Russian River inundated her home on February 26, 2019. (Photo: Barbara Wood)

By Barbara Wood

Ki Daniels, who has been living in an American Red Cross evacuation shelter since February 26, 2019 when forced to flee as the Russian River overtopped its banks, knows what it takes to recover from a disaster. That’s because in October 2017, Ki lost her home and all she owned in the Tubbs Fire, a loss from which she only recently had begun to feel she’d recovered.

Nonetheless, Ki, who had just recently completed renovating a home she thought would give her a fresh start on the banks of the Russian River, is upbeat about her future. She says her second loss of a home and most of her belongings in less than two years is “another opportunity for re-creation.” And she credits the Red Cross – which helped her recover after the Tubbs Fire and in the Sebastopol shelter gave her a safe, warm place to sleep, medical care, emotional support and meals – with helping to make that “re-creation” possible.

“The services that the Red Cross provides to those fleeing disaster is the foundation for their tomorrow,” Ki says. “I’ve been so well cared for.” She credits the Red Cross for helping her to manage her medical problems, as well as providing medication and medical supplies and providing a special adjustable, heavy-duty medical cot on which to sleep.

“It’s little things like that that make the world look different for someone who has medical problems,” she said.

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Ki Daniels shares the story of her recent escape from Russian River flood waters with a news reporter in front of the evacuation shelter in Sebastopol that the American Red Cross opened on February 26, 2019. (Photo: Barbara Wood)

Ki, who has a master’s degree in clinical psychology and a business as a Feng Shui consultant, said she arrived at her Russian River home after an out-of-town trip only to learn the area was being evacuated. “I just grabbed a trash bag,” she recalls. She filled it with her medications, a blanket and pillow, and a few papers. A sheriff’s deputy took off his jacket and gave it to her. “I was freezing,” she remembers.

After arriving at the shelter in the Sebastopol Center for the Arts, “the Red Cross absolutely gave me all the additional support I needed,” Ki says. Red Cross volunteers helped her find a change of clothing and other necessities. “My heart’s not broken – it may be cracked, but it’s not broken,” Ki says. She also says that her attitude about the future changed while she was in the shelter, especially after she volunteered to help the Red Cross assist some of the shelter residents.

“Being here really shifted my mind. I’m still useful,” she smiled.

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About the author: Barbara Wood is a Red Cross volunteer writer with our Silicon Valley Chapter.

Community togetherness in times of need

By Lindsay R. Peak

rc420 x 279Having survived the Valley Fire that decimated so much of Lake County in 2015, the mother/daughter duo of Kathleen Connors, 66, and Kelly Grimsley, 33, moved to Santa Rosa in August 2016 to make a “fresh start.” They had barely settled there when they heard the astonishing news in October 2017 of the threatening Tubbs Fire near their new home.

The two quickly fled, traveling toward Healdsburg in search of safety. A wrong turn landed them in Guerneville. Realizing their mistake, they looped back toward the freeway, eventually arriving at the emergency Red Cross shelter at Windsor High School in the early morning hours. Read more

Red Cross supports residents affected by current storm

Thursday, February 14, 10 a.m. — The series of storm systems that have pummeled California this week are causing flooding and mudslides in some of the Northern California counties that make up the American Red Cross’s Northern California Coastal Region (NCCR).

Red Cross disaster teams in our region opened two evacuation centers in the past 24 hours due to weather-related issues. Here are reports received this morning related to those incidents and other incidents:

In Marin County: A mudslide in the middle of the night caused a home in Sausalito to slide into a vacant home below it. One woman was rescued. About 50 homes are currently evacuated in the area as a precaution while officials determine the stability of the rest of the homes on the hill. Red Cross is operating the evacuation center at Sausalito Fire Station 1. Twenty-five to 30 residents are currently at the evacuation center. Red Cross volunteers are on site providing care and comfort to the residents awaiting word from officials.

In Santa Clara County: The Weather Service issued a flood warning for the portion of the Guadalupe River in the middle of the City of San Jose at 2:30 a.m.  Red Cross opened an evacuation center at Willow Glen Community Center at 3:30 a.m. An evacuation advisory was issued at 4:21 a.m.  The evacuation advisory was lifted at 6:45 a.m. today. In total 20 people, three dogs, and three cats (managed by our partners) took refuge at our evacuation center.

In Santa Cruz County: A large oak tree fell on a home in Boulder Creek this morning, displacing residents there; the home is also being deluged by water from intense rains in the Santa Cruz Mountains. The local Red Cross chapter’s Disaster Action Team has provided support (emergency lodging, food, and clothing) to a family of four (2 adults and 2 children). There were no injuries reported.

Many thanks to the dozens of amazing Red Cross volunteers from our region who answered the call overnight and this morning to help those in need of shelter in the middle of this most recent storm.

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With winter storms affecting residents in California and elsewhere in the U.S., please take a few minutes to read this Red Cross story, which includes important tips on staying safe.