PORTLAND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- As wildfires continue to rage in California, the Red Cross Cascades Region is deploying nine volunteers to the state to assist in the massive response effort. A Bend volunteer, meanwhile, is helping out from home.
Hundreds of thousands of people have been forced from their homes or are under the threat of evacuations, and the Red Cross serving Oregon and Southwest Washington is working to provide shelter, food and comfort for those who have been impacted.
Overnight, the Red Cross and its partners provided more than 2,300 people in California with refuge from the wildfires with emergency lodgings, including shelters and, in some circumstances, hotels.
Nearly 470 trained Red Cross disaster workers have been mobilized to support relief efforts in California -- or virtually.
Nine Red Cross disaster responders from Beaverton, Brookings, Dexter, Gold Beach, Portland, Salem and Springfield are making their way to California.
Meanwhile, Bend Red Cross volunteer Michael Pritchard is helping support fire victims remotely, by helping worried families get in touch with each other in a time of crisis.
It's his first time in the disaster volunteer role.
"In an evacuation situation, the magnitude that we're having right now, it is so chaotic that it is important for people to know that, 'I don't have to be worrying about this or this,' and 'I know that my sister in Michigan is going, 'Oh my God, oh my God.' But she can find out this information. So that's okay -- one less thing for me to worry about," Pritchard said.
In coordination with government and community partners, Red Crossers on the scene are preparing strategic shelter and warehouse locations and stocking food, cots, blankets and other relief supplies to help people affected by the wildfires.
COVID-19 has not changed the Red Cross mission, and it is still providing the same types of support as it always has. To help keep people safe, they are following guidance from CDC and public health authorities — and have put in place additional precautions.
Some of these plans include social distancing protocols, face coverings, health screenings, and opening additional shelters that can support fewer people than normal, so that they can ensure social distancing protocols.
Ensuring people have a safe place to stay during a disaster is a critical part of the Red Cross mission, but how they support sheltering efforts may be different in each community, depending on local emergency operations plans.
VOLUNTEER WITH THE RED CROSS In order to be ready to assist in the relief efforts related to these disasters, the local Red Cross Cascades Region is always looking for volunteer disaster responders. If you are an RN, LPN, LVN, APRN, NP, EMT, paramedic, MD/DO or PA with an active, current and unencumbered license, the Red Cross needs your support.
Volunteers are needed in shelters to help assess people’s health. Daily observation and health screening for COVID-19-like illness among shelter residents may also be required. RNs supervise all clinical tasks. Anyone interested in volunteering for the Red Cross as a disaster responder are encouraged to visit redcross.org/volunteer for more information.
CONNECT WITH LOVED ONES The Red Cross has two ways to help you reconnect with loved ones. The free Red Cross Safe and Well website allows people to register and post messages to indicate that they are safe, or to search for loved ones. The site is open to the public and available in Spanish. Registrations and searches can be done on the website or by texting SAFE to 78876.
The Red Cross Emergency App “I’m Safe” button allows users to post a message to their social accounts, letting friends and family know they are out of harm’s way. The Emergency App is in English and Spanish and is available in app stores by searching for the American Red Cross or going to redcross.org/apps.
MAKE A DONATION Help people affected by wildfires. Your donation enables the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from this disaster. Call 1-800-RED CROSS, visit RedCross.org or text ‘REDCROSS’ to 90999 to make a $10 donation.
About the American Red Cross The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org/Cascades or visit us on Twitter at @RedCrossCasc.