The American Red Cross and the Americorps NCCC- along with other relief agencies – the Medical Reserve Corps, Southern Baptist Disaster Relief and the Salvation Army. provided food, water and shelter to thousands of people while wildfires continued to burn in Colorado.
Montana, Wyoming, New Mexico, Arizona, California and Utah still have wildfires spreading as well. Mike Ferris, spokesman for the National Interagency Fire Center, has said fire fighting resources could be stretched if there are more fires or problems containing those already burning.
Thirteen Red Cross shelters opened in Colorado, Utah and Montana, and Americorps NCCC volunteers and Red Cross workers are providing shelter, meals and emotional support to many evacuated residents – over 35,000 n the Colorado blaze in the first week. Now that number is down to just over 3,000, mostly residents of the ‘Mountain Shadows’ subdivision, the same subdivision where two people, including a 62 year old grandmother was found burned to death inside her home.
There are currently six shelters open in Colorado and additional truckloads of supplies and more response vehicles will provide additional relief efforts in the other states.
The Colorado Springs wildfire was responsible for s now, destroying nearly 350 homes, and forcing more than 35,000 residents to evacuate the area, according to what Mayor Steve Bach, but now the city is slowly restoring utility services to the areas which were hit the hardest.
Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper who surveyed the devastating blaze from the air, was quoted as saying, “It was like looking at the worst movie set you could imagine. It’s almost surreal. You look at that, and it’s like nothing I’ve seen before.” Hickenlooper added, “This is the worst fire season in the history of Colorado.”
President Obama arrived last week, and took a walking tour of some of the neighborhoods that have been devastated by the blaze. He praised firefighters for their courage and called the ‘genuine heroes’.
Photos taken showing groups of houses being engulfed by flames, smoking charred wreckage where homes and other structures have burnt down to their foundations, and the orange flames of a mountain on fire have been described by eye-witnesses as ‘apocolyptic’ ‘surreal’ and ‘the worst nightmare I could ever imagine.’
Relief efforts in Colorado have been extensive. Since June 9, the Red Cross has:
- Served more than 33,000 meals and snacks;
- Provided 3,600 health and mental health contacts; and
- Handed out more than 4,900 relief items.
“Thousands have been impacted by these wildfires, and the Red Cross will be there as long as needed to give people a safe place to stay, food to eat and a shoulder to lean on,” said Charley Shimanski, head of Red Cross Disaster Services.
What you can do
If you’d like to help, you can make a donation to support American Red Cross Disaster Relief by visiting www.redcross.org or calling 1-800-RED-CROSS.
You can also text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Contributions may also be sent to local American Red Cross chapters or to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013.
If you or a loved one is in need of a Red Cross Shelter
You can find out where Red Cross shelters are open by going to www.redcross.org or accessing the free Red Cross phone app. Both are refreshed with updated information every 30 minutes. Residents can also monitor local media—radio, newspaper and television—to find out where local shelters are located.
Register on Safe and Well
The Red Cross Safe and Well website is also available. People affected by the fires can access the site and let loved ones know where they are.
There are several ways to register on Safe and Well, or search for a loved one. From a computer, visit redcross.org; from a smart phone, visit www.redcross.org/safeandwell or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) to be connected with one’s local Red Cross chapter.