Beginning Sunday, June 9 and continuing for two days, The Inland Empire Chapter of the American Red Cross provided canteening services to firefighters at the scene of a large hay fire in El Mirage, CA. Firefighters were working in over 100º temperatures battling the fire. Evelyn Greaver, Dennis Greaver, Chuck Duncan and Georgia Duncan served more than 500 snacks, water and coffee to 150 firefighters.
Washington – Two separate brush fires burned hundreds of acres and closed a road in Yakima and Benton Counties on Monday.
The Yakima Valley Chapter deployed team members and provided canteen services for emergency responders.
The Benton-Franklin Chapter communicated with local Emergency Management and placed team members on standby.
On Father’s Day June 16, Red Cross workers, along with the Knights of Columbus and partner groups throughout the area threw a Father’s Day celebration for Black Forest fire evacuees and volunteers at Palmer Ridge High School. Over 50 volunteers and residents were at the event that featured a delicious meal prepared by the Knights of Columbus, costumed entertainers, a face painter, balloon artist, live music, games and joy for everyone. This was an opportunity for disaster volunteers and those that have been displaced to spend time with loved ones, relax, and enjoy themselves.
Eleven year old Dimitar Georgiev and his dad Valentin were all smiles as they watched magic tricks and played with balloon animals.
“It’s great here,” said Dimitar. “There’s unlimited snacks and play time and lots of games.”
The Georgiev family was forced from their homes when the wildfire began and have been staying at the Red Cross shelter for nearly a week, waiting for the area to be cleared.
The Pascoe family had to leave their home when the wildfire blazed through Black Forest and came to the Red Cross shelter at Palmer Ridge HS along with their two dogs. Tim Pascoe his wife, Rowena, and daughter, Desli, enjoyed the Father’s Day festivities.
“We are glad we had this time to spend with our family,” said Rowena. “Things have seemed pretty unreal since the evacuation.”
The Disaster Assessment (DA) work for the Black Forest Fire began today as three DA volunteers got into a 4-wheel drive pickup early in the morning. The team leader, George Newell along with team members Julie Utschig and Jenny Steenhoff are seasoned disaster assessment volunteers. George and Julie worked the Waldo Canyon fire and Jenny worked the Lower North Fork Fire, both fires in 2012.
The morning began with a detailed briefing and the review of “street sheets”. These sheets are obtained from the Incident Command Post and provide a list of homes in the burn area. From that list, the assessment team drives through the area in an attempt to locate each residence. This can be a difficult task because addresses signs are often not clearly visible.
“We try to evaluate each home based on a 3 sided evaluation,” said Newell. The team does a driveby assessment of the front and each side to determine if the home was a total loss, partially damaged or not affected. The information is tallied for Red Cross use only so that recovery planning and support can begin. The numbers provided by the Disaster Assessment teams help the Red Cross decide what vehicles, supplies are needed to help with the recovery and the number of additional Red Cross volunteers might be needed.
“This was the first day of disaster assessment”, according to Newell, “we have a long way to go. The complexity of the terrain makes it a slower process.” Newell also said that this is sometimes a difficult and emotional task when you consider the impact this kind of disaster has in families and the community.
DENVER, COLO., June 16, 2013 – Disaster relief workers involved in the Red Cross response to Colorado wildfires got to pause in their busy day and spend a few moments with their loved ones during a special Father’s Day picnic for disaster operations staff on Sunday, June 16.
The Red Cross hosted a brief Father’s Day picnic so that workers’ family members could spend a few moments with Dad before he went back to work helping the Red Cross deliver essential basic needs for people affected by the Black Forest Fire and other fires in the state. Food was donated by Catering By Design.
One of the fathers who experienced a moment of joy with both his son and his own father is Eric Jones, Red Cross State Disaster Officer for Colorado. Jones just recently returned from a harrowing, 16-day deployment to Norman, OK, where he had to hunker down during a massive tornado that passed over him and his disaster workforce.
Shortly after completing his assignment as Assistant Director of the Red Cross relief operation in Oklahoma, Jones returned to his home in Lakewood – and almost immediately jumped right back into another major disaster response as wildfires erupted in numerous locations in Colorado on June 11.
Jones, like other Red Cross volunteers and employees, has been working nonstop 12- to 14-hour-days since, and has had little time to spend with his family. He said he had been looking forward to pausing for a moment to celebrate Father’s Day with his family at the Red Cross headquarters.
”We’re all working hard today and will tomorrow, and so will the fathers out there on the front line,” Jones said. “As a side note, it touches my heart that my family is willing to come be a part of this celebration of spirit.”
Jones exchanged Father’s Day cards with his son, Traeger, 2, and his father, Rick Jones, at the event.
“I’m so proud of my son for the sacrifices he makes and the people he helps,” Rick Jones said.
For his part, Jones said he learned the importance of service to others from his dad, who retired as a government civil servant after more than 30 years. Rick Jones is still serving to this day, now as a volunteer for a local Sheriff’s Auxiliary. And Eric hopes to instill the same spirit of service and sacrifice in his own son.
Last year, Jones and other Colorado Red Cross staff also worked through Father’s Day and July 4th as they responded to a busy wildfire season. “We’re all appreciative of the Red Cross family and for all of those who chose to serve on this special holiday. The Red Cross is all about mobilizing the power of communities and the generosity of donors – and today Dads especially,” he said.
California - The Carspens Fire threatened hundreds of homes in Mariposa County and prompted the evacuation of residents within the affected area on Sunday.
The American Red Cross Central Valley Chapter deployed team members, opened an evacuation center and provided Mass Care.