Tag Archives: Preparedness

Former volunteer applies Red Cross lessons to loss of her home to wildfire

This is another in a series of stories we are posting on this regional blog related to the American Red Cross response to the Kincade Fire disaster:

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Former Red Cross Disaster Action Team volunteer Jeanne Sternbergh (l) and her husband Jim (r), who lost their home in the Kincade Fire reconnect with old Red Cross friend Cindy Jones at the Local Assistance Center in the Healdsburg Community Center on Nov. 4. See more stories related to the Red Cross response to the Kincade Fire. See photos from this response.

Jeanne Sternbergh spent many years as a Red Cross Disaster Action Team member, responding countless times to help Sonoma County residents displaced by home fires. Now she’s helping herself.

Sternbergh and her husband Jim lost their home off Chalk Hill Road in Healdsburg, California to the Kincade Fire.

The fixer-upper home the Sternberghs bought in 2000 and poured sweat equity into is gone, along with half the other homes in their immediate neighborhood. Most of those who didn’t lose their homes lost barns or essentials such as pumps that provided water to their homes.

Only a few lone trees remain in the garden Sternbergh had lovingly built up plant by plant.

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Former Red Cross Disaster Action Team volunteer Jeanne Sternbergh (l) and her husband Jim (r), who lost their home in the Kincade Fire reconnect with old Red Cross friend Cindy Jones at the Local Assistance Center in the Healdsburg Community Center on Nov. 4. See more stories related to the Red Cross response to the Kincade Fire. See photos from this response.

Jeanne Sternbergh spent many years as a Red Cross Disaster Action Team member, responding countless times to help Sonoma County residents displaced by home fires. Now she’s helping herself.

Sternbergh and her husband Jim lost their home off Chalk Hill Road in Healdsburg, California to the Kincade Fire.

The fixer-upper home the Sternberghs bought in 2000 and poured sweat equity into is gone, along with half the other homes in their immediate neighborhood. Most of those who didn’t lose their homes lost barns or essentials such as pumps that provided water to their homes.

Only a few lone trees remain in the garden Sternbergh had lovingly built up plant by plant.

Read more

Electeds help lead the charge in preparedness

This is another in a series of stories we are posting on this regional blog related to the American Red Cross response to the Kincade Fire disaster:

Red Cross shelter manager Virginia Escalante and volunteer David O’Neil welcomes Sonoma County Supervisor James Gore at the Sonoma County Veterans Building. 10/28/19
Photo credit: Kathryn Hecht | American Red Cross

See more stories related to the Red Cross response to the Kincade Fire.

See photos from this response.

Sonoma County Supervisor James Gore says the “new normal” should refer to preparedness, not disaster. “Let’s embrace being ready,” he said during a press conference in the middle of the Kincade Fire.

For the past two years, Gore, and his colleagues on the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors, put in place ambitious plans – coordinating with numerous state, county, and local agencies (including the Red Cross) and neighborhoods – to not only help a community recover from the Tubbs Fires Disaster in 2017, but also prepare for the next one.

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Community in a shelter full of strangers

This is another in a series of stories we are posting on this regional blog related to the American Red Cross response to the Kincade Fire disaster:

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Red Cross cots and blankets await evacuees earlier this week at the Marin County Fairgrounds shelter.

To see more stories related to the Red Cross response to the Kincade Fire, please go here.

By Taylor Poisall,
American Red Cross

In a room filled to capacity, a sense of community was present.

“It’s actually been really nice. There’s a sense of bonding that makes us all feel like close neighbors” said Cathy, who moved to Northern California a few years ago from the East Coast. This was her first time ever staying in a shelter.My daughter has had a great time; it’s like she has been at camp. She played games with other children, read books from the mobile library, and visited with many elderly residents.” Read more

This Red Cross shelter is just what this trio — and hundreds of others here — have so desperately needed

This is another in a series of stories we are posting on our regional Red Cross blog related to the American Red Cross response to the Kincade Fire disaster:

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Jim Armstrong (left), Luke Armstrong, and Cynthia Jackson are grateful for the “open-armed” reception they and others have received at a Red Cross shelter in Petaluma. (Photo: Jim Burns | American Red Cross)

To see more stories related to the Red Cross response to the Kincade Fire, please go here.
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It’s fair to say that Jim and Luke Armstrong, a father-son pair who both live in the North Bay community of Sebastopol, have a well-honed habit of looking out for each other. So when mandatory evacuation orders came to their respective neighborhoods in the dark of Sunday morning, they quite naturally left town together in search of alternative housing.

With upwards of 200,000 other people getting similar orders related to the Kincade Fire, the Armstrongs couldn’t find any. Read more

Red Cross shelters in North Bay are people AND pet friendly

This is the first of a series of stories we will be posting related to the American Red Cross response to the Kincade Fire disaster:

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The Red Cross and community shelters have been people- and pet-friendly, as Debbie Chiurco and “Shorty” happily discovered. (Photo: Jim Burns | American Red Cross)

To see more stories related to the Red Cross response to the Kincade Fire, please go here.

Debbie Chiurco, a resident of the Sonoma County city of Sebastopol, had never been through an evacuation before. But her status suddenly changed when she received a leave-now order on her cell phone at 4 a.m. on Sunday. The emergency notification was soon followed up by police sirens and the knocking of caring neighbors, all reaching out to convey the same thing: The high winds that were forecast in Northern California would put Debbie at risk from the Kincade Fire; she should leave now!

With her dog and cat accompanying her, Debbie made it to a shelter the Red Cross is helping operate at the fairgrounds in Petaluma. “I just followed the cars here,” she said. Read more

Over half of homes in Silver Creek Mobile Estates made safer by ‘Sound the Alarm’ event

On October 19, 2019, a team of over 100 American Red Cross and Tzu Chi Foundation volunteers supported by Council Member for District 7, Maya Esparza, San Jose Fire Department worked in teams to install smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors.

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The Silver Creek Mobile Estates is a community of 240 homes located in San Jose, California. Captain Bien Doan of the San Jose Fire Department working with Terry Unter, Disaster Services Volunteer at the Silicon Valley Chapter of the Red Cross, directed a coordinated campaign to canvass the community and pre-book Saturday morning appointments for the installations. Following the installation, everyone regrouped for lunch: subs from Lee’s Sandwiches.

Volunteers were greeted with welcoming remarks from Council Member Esparza and San Jose Fire Chief Robert Sapien, Jr. Chief Sapien stressed how important this work was to the safety of citizens of San Jose and recalled an incident in August where a mobile home resident was awakened by a smoke detector and was able to safely evacuate the home along with the other resident living there; that smoke detector had been installed in February 2019 during an earlier Sound the Alarm event.

STA SVC Blog 420x280 2Initial training was provided by Terry Unter, Liz Dietz, and Doug Moses-Batson. After instruction on how to install smoke alarms and provide training to residents, teams of four were deployed to visit the homes in the community. Each team was composed of an Educator, an Installer, an Assistant Installer, and a Documenter.

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The Hardest Job

30 Years Later, the Loma Prieta Earthquake Response Remains Jim Aldrich’s Most Difficult

Galveston Island had seen better days. Hurricane Jerry had battered the Texas barrier island cum tourist haunt the day before, leaving flooded roads strewn with flotsam and sand dunes pummeled into the mud. Jim Aldrich of the American Red Cross, who was in Galveston as part of the organization’s recovery effort, had just settled in to watch Game 3 of the World Series from his hotel room. The game’s telecast, aired live from San Francisco, suddenly scratched with static as the frame jerked and spasmed. There was confusion, shouting.

“We’re having an earth-” someone said before the live feed cut to black.

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An aerial view of the collapsed section of the Cypress Structure. The 6.9 earthquake caused the top deck of the highway to fall onto the lower deck, killing 42 people.

It was October 17, 1989, and Northern California had just experienced a catastrophic event, the Loma Prieta earthquake. The 6.9 tremor ravaged homes, infrastructure, and lives from Monterey Bay through the Bay Area, leaving 66 people dead, thousands injured, and tens of thousands homeless. Like Jim, millions watched the quake strike in real time on live television.

The Red Cross contacted Jim, an employee from St. Louis, within hours of the now-cancelled World Series game; he would trade the Texas Gulf Coast for a new deployment to the earthquake response in California. Having 8+ years with the Red Cross and ample disaster experience under his belt, he felt up to the job. However, as he would learn over the next three months, the Loma Prieta response would be the most challenging of his career.
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