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.
Indiana - A large fire at a recycling plant in Indianapolis threatened hundreds of homes and prompted the evacuation of residents within the affected area on Friday.
The Greater Indianapolis chapter deployed team members, opened an evacuation center / shelter for affected-area residents and provided Mass Care.
Florida - A severe storm caused damages to homes and affected residents in Clay County on Friday.
The Northeast Florida Chapter deployed Disaster Action Team members, dispatched an Emergency Response Vehicle and provided client casework to disaster victims.
Texas - Storms with excessive rainfall caused flooding that went through the southern portion of the state, affected homes and prompted evacuations on Friday.
Team members from the San Antonio Area Chapter communicated with Emergency Management, dispatched an Emergency Response Vehicle, opened two shelters and provided Mass Care to affected-area residents.
The American Red Cross Southeastern Pennsylvania gives an update on the impending severe storm and what the Red Cross in Philadelphia and surrounding areas along with other agencies are doing to prepare. The emergency services director explains what services the Red Cross may provide after the storm hits. For information on how to prepare for severe weather, go to redcross.org
Ohio - Strong winds brought down power lines and trees in Marion county and heavy rain caused flash flooding in Crawford county yesterday.
Search and rescue efforts are underway in some areas.
The Galion Chapter opened a shelter for the affected residents.
Most new moms with a seven-week old baby are concerned about changing diapers and feeding times. But Jamie Harrelson of El Reno, OK, has far greater worries for her son, Logan and her family. A place to live, food to eat, clothes to wear, a car to drive – the family lost all this and more when an EF-5 tornado tore through El Reno on May 31, 2013.
Three weeks later, Jamie, Logan and Jamie’s mother-in-law Cathy are visiting the Multi-Agency Resource Center in El Reno and loading up on supplies – diapers, water, personal hygiene items, gloves, rakes, shovels and much more.
They are also talking to the agencies that are here to help. They talked to American Red Cross caseworkers, to representatives from the United Way and Salvation Army. Their local insurance man is here and so is a Dell representative with an internet café that residents can use to reach out to family and friends and fill out insurance forms online. “Being able to come here and get what we need and talk to everyone who can help us, we can’t thank the Red Cross enough” says Cathy Harellson. “We love the Red Cross for doing this”
Five Multi Agency Resource Centers (MARCs) were opened to serve the thousands of people affected by the tornadoes of May 19, 20 and 31 in the Oklahoma City area. MARCs in Moore, Shawnee, Little Axe, El Reno and Carney brought together dozens of organizations under one roof to serve these families by providing resources, supplies and information, saving the families the time and trouble of going to many different locations to get help.
James Tittle, Regional Emergency Services Director of the Central and Western Oklahoma Region of the American Red Cross says that planning for the MARC is something the organizations involved have been doing for several years, working with the Oklahoma VOAD (Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster)to put the plan into place. “It’s all about serving the families affected and making their road to recovery as smooth as possible” Tittle says. “By working together in the MARC, we not only help the families, but the organizations are helping each other deliver services quickly and efficiently. It’s the whole community coming together to respond the needs of our friends, families and neighbors”
The American Red Cross is providing shelter, food, emotional support and other assistance in response to several wildfires burning across the state.
Last night, 73 evacuated residents stayed overnight at Red Cross shelters. The Red Cross is operating shelters in the following locations:
Black Forest Fire, Colorado Springs area
The Red Cross is opening shelters at:
Royal Gorge Fire, Cañon City area
Middle Creek Fire near LaVeta
The Red Cross shelter at the Huerfano County Community Center, 928 Russell Ave., Walsenburg, closed on Tuesday, June 11, as only two homes remained evacuated at the time. The shelter can be reopened if the need arises.
Additionally, the Red Cross is on standby and monitoring other wildfires in the state where Red Cross shelters have not yet been required.
Washington - A brushfire started in Benton County yesterday resulting in the evacuation of eleven homes and threatened eighty others. All evacuation orders were lifted later on.
A second brushfire started in Finley but no evacuations have been ordered.
The Benton-Franklin County Chapter opened a shelter.
Colorado - Several wildfires burned in El Paso, Fremont, Huerfano, Larimer, Grand and Moffat Counties yesterday prompting the evacuation of hundreds of homes and destroying several structures.
The Pikes Peak Chapter opened four shelters for the affected residents.
The Mile High and Northern Colorado chapters are ready to provide assistance if requested.
An overview of how the Red Cross arranges to deliver meals to those in need after a major disaster
— Red Cross Oklahoma (@redcrossokc) June 8, 2013
— Anna Kate Twitty (@annakatetwitty) June 7, 2013
— Anna Kate Twitty (@annakatetwitty) June 7, 2013
New York – A carbon monoxide leak affected the residents of an apartment complex in Onondaga County and prompted evacuations on Sunday. Three residents were treated at a nearby hospital and released.
The chapter deployed Disaster Action Team members, opened a shelter and provided Mass Care.
A brush fire in Yakima County burned thousands of acres and briefly threatened homes on Friday.
The Yakima Valley Chapter communicated with local Emergency Management, deployed team members and provided canteen services to emergency responders.
Volunteers from the Benton-Franklin and Kittitas Chapters were on standby to provide mutual aid, if needed.
Georgia - A storm with excessive rainfall caused portion of a dam to collapse, damaged a bridge and prompted evacuations in Fulton County on Friday.
Team members from the chapter opened a shelter for residents within the affected area and provided Mass Care.