The scenes from the California fires seem right out of an action movie, but the reality is the fires continues to ravage and it forced hundreds of people to evacuate prompting support from the American Red Cross.
Nearly 800 Red Cross volunteers responded to the emergency shelters as it is still unsafe for people to return home in northern and southern areas of the state.
Vito Larson is a Logistic Lead at the American Red Cross who serves areas of Riverside and San Bernardino Counties. He said good Samaritans are donating items to their local red cross locations, but sometimes too much of what is not needed becomes unhelpful.
“According to my estimates we pulled in about 70,000 water bottles out of donations for the Holly fire in Lake Elsinore,” Larson said. “And just from a logistic stand-point moving 70,000 bottles of water that comes in different size packaging becomes more difficult.”
A common thread after each devastation are the amount of item supplies that flood the evacuation shelters. However, Larson said the non-profit organization has contract for its own emergency supplies, therefore personal care items or non-perishable items are not really needed at the peak of an emergency.
The American Red Cross Executive Director for the Riverside area, Lois Beckman, said money donations online are the best way to help those who have been affected by the fires.
Beckman said,”The best way to help is really through a financial contribution, that means we can take the money to people who need it the most when it is needed.”
The American Red Cross does not deter people from helping with donations, instead it encourages people to to help in ways where supplies will not go to waste.
Larson said, “They’re going to have to start to go into their houses that could be completely devastated and they need to start searching for valuables and belongings so they would need sifters for example, that’s not something can purchase and get it up there.”
Monetary donations to the American Red Cross are also used to prepare meals for people who stay at its shelters, as well as in the training of volunteers who deploy wherever they are needed to help.