While it’s not yet known if local Red Cross volunteers will mobilize to help residents displaced by three major wildland fires burning in California, one Red Cross worker has family directly affected by one disaster.
Most major news outlets are reporting Paradise has been mostly destroyed by the Camp Fire, which began Thursday in Butte County and ballooned to 70,000 acres in two days, destroying an estimated 2,000 structures.
Crescent City insurance agent Mary Dorman is also a coordinator with the Red Cross, and happens to have friends and family in Paradise. Her husband lived there for many years and they lived in the area.
“We had one family member who called us while she was driving out of Paradise,” Dorman said, “with fire all around and burning limbs dropping on her car as she was running out of gas. Thankfully, she made it all the way to Chico.”
She said all her friends and family have made it out of the area safely, but they have yet to receive word as to whether their homes are OK. She’s hopeful the homes may have been in a pocket spared from the fire.
“We don’t know until we know,” she said. “One of the worst parts for victims is the time it takes to get the answers.”
Dorman said Red Cross has learned a lot in the past couple years of devastating California fires and volunteers remain ready to leave for up to two weeks to help others.
Several local volunteers have also worked national emergencies, including hurricanes that left many homeless.
Dorman said a question she gets asked a lot is, “How can I help?”
She said donations of cash to the Red Cross, Salvation Army or other reputable organizations will get to people faster and do more good than donations of clothing or other items.
Dorman said she cannot adequately stress the importance of being prepared with adequate fuel, supplies, food, and planning for any emergency.
She said the Red Cross offers smartphone apps that post regular emergency information, first aid, pet care, hurricane, earthquake, and fire information.
Dorman said she has the apps on her phone and knew about the red flag warning near Paradise before the fire even started.
She also suggested residents enter their information in the Red Cross’s Safe and Well system, to let friends and family members confirm they are safe in widespread emergencies.
Go to www.redcross.org for the apps and information on ways to help.