Red Crosser

At the American Red Cross I have the opportunity to go out on “deployments” during disasters. From large scale hurricanes to tornadoes and floods, when the Red Cross increases it’s disaster response it calls on workers throughout the organization to assist in relief efforts. Last Tuesday I left DC on my first deployment to California to help with wildfire operations!

Where exactly was I in California? Wine country!

How many glasses of wine did I have? The same amount as when I was carded in Napa three days before my 21st birthday.

CA
After landing in Sacramento Tuesday afternoon I met with a fellow Red Crosser to drive to the operation headquarters. I basically hit the ground running – meeting other workers, learning my role and trying to figure out how to do it. My responsibilities were different than my day job. In CA I was brought in to help with in-kind donations; soliciting donations for anything from water bottles, to camping supplies, to meals and snacks and storage containers. And much more!

A bit more background on the fires: 2015 has been one of the worst wildfire seasons on record. More than 9 million acres have burned this year; in comparison nearly 3 million burned in 2014 and 4 million in 2013. I went to help with recovery for two particular blazes, the Valley Fire and the Butte Fire, which both started mid-September and burned like crazy for a few weeks. Combined, these fires completely destroyed more than 1,700 homes. Since they started, the Red Cross has operated shelters, served meals, distributed relief supplies and conducted client casework to help affected residents get back on their feet and work towards some sort of normalcy.

Fire
How was the trip? Eye-opening, humbling and a lot of other similar adjectives combined. It put a lot of things in perspective! Especially since I was living out a shelter… !
Shelter
One project that I was able to immerse myself into was a partnership with the Boy Scouts who made sifters for people who lost their homes. Despite the project’s rather morbid undertones, it was pretty neat to see everyone working so hard for the cause!

SiftersSo many sifters! Approximately 2,500 were made over a three day period.

In other outside-the-office events, I was able to ride around in the ERV (Emergency Response Vehicle) helping to distribute some of the sifters, visit client shelter sites and was even able to enjoy a meal served from the mobile vehicle! Chicken, rice and vegetables was the selection of the day, prepared by a local catering company (an in-kind donation).

ERV

One of the hardest parts of the trip was the maybe not-so-surprising fact that it was very difficult to get some running in! I might have stressed a bit too much about not accomplishing planned miles due to longer working hours, no gym access and mountainous and windy roads. Therefore, 20 miles is still to be accomplished this weekend!

Overall it was a challenging, but incredibly worthwhile trip. Would I do it again? Yes! Just not until this race is done. : )

Cheers!
-EmPan
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