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
Having returned home after their Glass Fire evacuation, a Santa Rosa couple shares their Red Cross story
By Dave Skutnik
Red Cross disaster worker Leigh Elliott is shown with Ila and Mike Ervin at the Ervin’s Santa Rosa area home following the Glass Fire.
As flames from the dangerous Glass Fire roared toward them, Mike and Ila Ervin — like so many on the night of September 27 — were forced to flee their rural home near the Northern California city of Santa Rosa.
“The sheriff came around and said we had to get out,” recalls Mike. “There was barely any time to even pack anything. We had to go — now.” 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
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
Vacaville area couple, evacuated because of the LNU Fire, finds care and comfort at a Red Cross shelter
By Marcia Antipa
Karen Stickler, her husband, and their dog found comfort and caring in a safe Red Cross shelter in Vacaville. (Photo: Kathleen Maclay)
It was the middle of the night on August 18, and Karen Stickler was sound asleep in the rural Vacaville home she had shared with her husband, Dave, for 30 years. It was a hot, windy night, and the power had gone out earlier that day in their neighborhood. Then, just before midnight, the phone rang.
“My husband said to me, ‘Get up. We have to leave now.’”
That night, the LNU Complex Fire – sparked by an unusual lightning storm – tore through five Northern California counties, destroying almost 1,000 structures and forcing many more evacuations. Read more
Evacuated and waiting to learn the fate of her own home in the Santa Cruz Mountains, Red Cross volunteer Linnea Dunn — heroically — provided assistance to others
Waiting to learn the fate of her own home, Linnea Dunn did what brings great satisfaction to her: She helped others as a Red Cross volunteer.
Like the 74,000 other people who were evacuated last week in response to the fast-moving CZU August Complex Fire in the Santa Cruz Mountains, Linnea Dunn quickly grabbed what possessions she could and prepared to flee to safety.
As she started her car in the early-morning hours on Tuesday morning, August 18, Linnea glanced back at the home she has owned on 2 1/2 acres in the rural neighborhood of Bonny Doon, wondering if it would still be standing when she returned. Two days later, Linnea got the news she dreaded: Her home, which she had lived in for more than 25 years — and a second one occupied by two other co-owners of the property — were both gone. Read more