The American Red Cross Three Rivers chapter in Yuba City, Calif., provides lifesaving services to eight counties, 1 covering 9,000 square miles that are prone to wildfires and floods. It is critical that the Three Rivers chapter has the resources to prepare for and respond to emergencies in this disaster-prone, Northern California region.
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The number-one threat to most of this area is slow-rising floods that often trigger mudslides in the mountainous regions and cut cities off from one another because of the many rivers, lowlands and levees. In Butte County alone, this can affect more than 100,000 people. In addition, wildfires affected six out of eight of these counties last summer and future fires are always a concern.
Through the Wal-Mart Foundation’s $5 million Disaster Readiness & Capacity Building grant program, the Foundation is supporting Red Cross efforts to make these cities independent and able to sustain themselves during disasters of this nature. The Three Rivers chapter is receiving $58,946 and is one of 128 Red Cross chapters nationwide awarded funds from the Wal-Mart Foundation to ensure smaller communities, often isolated during times of disaster, can respond to the needs of its residents.
The grants to Red Cross chapters will help the Red Cross acquire and maintain material and human resources necessary to manage relief operations. The Three Rivers chapter is purchasing disaster relief supplies, including laptops, cots, blankets and trailers to store supplies. The chapter will also purchase shelter kits with supplies such as flashlights, batteries, toilet paper, and pens; health service kits with medications and medical supplies; and comfort kits with toiletries and other essential hygiene items. The chapter will preposition these materials in each of the counties to ensure an immediate disaster response.
The chapter has also been aggressively trying to train new volunteers and build the capacity of its current volunteers to supervisor-level volunteers. Community partner collaboration is also a critical success factor. The chapter would like to develop close relationships with public health departments, the Office of Emergency Services, animal rescue groups, the military, schools, churches and faith-based groups to train them on how to open and run shelters, and Ham Radio Groups that support communication needs when disasters affect cell phone coverage.
The influx of advanced volunteers, pre-positioning of disaster response supplies in strategic areas, and the increase of community partner relationships, will provide the resources and knowledge for the Three Rivers chapter to effectively respond to a disaster.
“The 2008 summer wildfires started on June 8, 2019, and we did not stop serving people and opening and closing shelters until August 1, 2019. The Three Rivers chapter volunteers, national Red Cross, State Office of Emergency Services, local media and private businesses came together in such a smooth and natural way that the people most affected by this long and demanding fire thought we were all actually ‘One,’” said Martha Griese, Three Rivers Chapter CEO. “The experience made me feel grateful to be a part of the American Red Cross.”
1 Butte, Colusa, Glenn, Plumas, Sierra, Sutter, Western Nevada, Yuba and Beale Air Force Base
About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and counsels victims of disasters; provides nearly half of the nation's blood supply; teaches lifesaving skills; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a charitable organization — not a government agency — and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its humanitarian mission. For more information, please visit www.redcross.org or join our blog at www.redcrosschat.org.