In service during the Camp Fire crisis

Local Red Cross board member shares his crash course in disaster relief

The author has lived in Butte County since 2000.

A longtime corporate donor, I joined the local Red Cross board in October of 2018. Just four weeks later, we were responding to the most destructive wildfire in California history.

Executive Director Amanda Ree called me Nov. 8 and asked if I wanted to support our work responding to the Camp Fire. Since then, I have volunteered hundreds of hours.

First, I was on the team coordinating with Cal Fire at the Incident Command Center. As a community liaison, I engaged my local network to recruit dozens of volunteers to go into our community, where we registered more than 10,000 people on Safe & Well, the Red Cross’ reunification tool, which helped the Butte County Sheriff’s Office locate hundreds of missing people. Next, I secured two warehouses to store unsolicited donations that streamed in as the Red Cross coordinated with partners to distribute. Finally, I provided leadership in the Long-Term Recovery Group, where I remain as an executive committee member.

Since the day the fire started, the Red Cross has provided over 40,000 overnight stays at its shelters, providing safety and comfort to some of the most vulnerable fire-affected members of our community. We have provided more than 85,000 meals at our shelters and on the Ridge. Our health workers, mental health staff and spiritual care teams made thousands of contacts in our community. Our teams have been supporting the communities on the Ridge, distributing much-needed items such as water, shoes and blankets.

A disaster like this overwhelms most organizations. Thankfully, the Red Cross mobilized more than 2,000 volunteers and staff from across the country to serve the community.

The Red Cross continues to work one-on-one with clients at the shelter—our focus is on piecing together recovery plans that can buttress their overall recovery.

I have always been service-oriented. Service with the Red Cross allows me to make a direct impact in my beloved community. I have seen our mission in action. I have been a part of it. And, I remain an ever-proud supporter and board member.