The author surveys damage from the Glass Fire during her two-week deployment. (Photo courtesy of Mariana Vimbela) _____
As is seemingly the case with every disaster deployment, there was plenty for me and other Red Crossers to learn while taking part in the organization’s humanitarian response to the Glass Fire in Northern California this past October. During this particular deployment, I was regularly reminded of the importance of making connections in the affected communities in order to maximize our relief and recovery efforts. Read more
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 these Red Cross responses, 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. Read more
“The level of coordination and care was outstanding,” Esalen Institute’s Terry Gilbey said of the Red Cross response to the Dolan Fire. (Photo by Jens Wazel) _____
Founded in the 1960s in picturesque Big Sur, the Esalen Institute has a well-earned reputation for exploring human consciousness and developing human potential. The center attracts visitors from around the world whose interests in subjects such as personal growth, meditation, massage, yoga, and spirituality are explored less seriously by traditional universities and religions.
Terry Gilbey, the General Manager/CEO, has been with the institute since 2016. Just a year into his tenure, he helped the center stay afloat after landslides and a bridge failure made the facility inaccessible for many months. So the institute — and Terry — has had some practice with disasters. Read more
On a hot, windy Thursday in late August, the Corbin family of Morgan Hill got a cellphone alert: an evacuation warning, telling them to get ready to leave their home. Firefighters said the SCU Lightning Complex Fire threatened their community.
Bill Corbin realized the threat was serious.
“The wind was blowing southeast,” says Bill. “If it was to pick up, we would definitely be in danger.” Read more
Preparing to assemble re-entry kits for fire evacuees returning home, Casey Affleck is briefed by Michele Averill, CEO for the Central Coast Chapter (right), and Kerrin Welsh, Regional Preparedness Manager, in a warehouse in the community of Aromas. (Photo by Brian Nichols) _____
As a long-time Red Cross volunteer and disaster responder, I have seen first-hand the impact disasters have on individuals, families, first responders, and entire communities. Although the resulting devastation and loss are unbearable, natural disasters can also bring out the very best in people who step forward to help in any way possible.
Academy Award-winning actor Casey Affleck and his friend Brian Nichols were two such people, wanting to provide assistance during the devastating CZU Lightning Complex Fire in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Read more
American Red Cross Volunteer, Anne Johnson, calls Fairbanks, Alaska home, but this year, she has found herself all around California – virtually that is. Anne is a recovery casework volunteer and spends her days calling people impacted by wildfires to offer Red Cross support services. In addition to resources, Anne also spends long hours on the phone, offering one invaluable service: connection.
“I was nervous about virtual deployment,” Anne says. “How do you offer something long distance from Alaska?” Yet, she quickly figured it out. With the COVID-19 pandemic keeping people apart, Anne realized that people desired a personal connection and to be heard. Something struck her during a recent conversation with a Red Cross client. “This one really hit me,” Anne said, and she knew she had to do something more.