Local Red Cross Volunteer Deploys to California

A local volunteer with the American Red Cross of Northwest Missouri is getting ready to deploy to Santa Ana, California on Tuesday to assist with wildfire relief efforts.

Posted: Dec 11, 2017 1:46 PM
Updated: Dec 12, 2017 2:56 PM

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) Fires continue to rage through Southern California, consuming more than 250,000 acres of land.

A total of six fires continue to blaze throughout the state, leaving over 100,000 people still facing evacuation orders.

Many of those families and individuals who have been forced to evacuate sought refuge in American Red Cross Shelters. The organization said on Sunday, over 400 people took refuge in six of their community shelters.

A local volunteer with the American Red Cross of Northwest Missouri, Karla Long, is getting ready to deploy to Santa Ana, California on Tuesday for three weeks to assist with relief efforts.

"The devastation is just unbelievable," Long said. "To see that happen, and to see it happen so close to the holidays. I mean, I see families lose everything in house fires here locally, but to see entire neighborhoods and entire communities it just breaks your heart."

Long is the Disaster Program Manager for the Red Cross, and said she has been working for them for 24 years. This will be Long's fifth time being deployed to California, responding to the wildfires in Sacramento just six weeks ago.

"Everything as far as the eye can see is just ash and smoke and, you know, grey and black. You see chimneys and you see burned out cars, but everything else is just gone," Long said.

Being with the American Red Cross for 24 years, Long said she has seen and experienced what it's like for people to lose everything.

During her time in Sacramento, Long said Red Cross volunteers spent several hours making homemade sifters for families to be able to find stones and diamonds.

"The gold will melt down and the silver will melt down, but the diamond or the precious stone will still be there," Long said. "Many times that's a very sentimental value because it's the wife's wedding ring or the mother's wedding ring who might be deceased."

With all the devastation and grief Long experiences when responding to these fires, she said helping people get back on their feet is what keeps her going.

"Once you see, whether it's the single house fire right here in St. Joseph in our own community or you see the loss on a bigger scale, you're just grateful for what you have," Long said. "You feel blessed that you have a home to go to because these families don't have that anymore."

To find out more about how to volunteer or donate to the Red Cross, visit their website

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Moving into the weekend, we will be keeping an eye on the potential for flooding rain and strong thunderstorms. On Saturday, the rain might hold off until the afternoon but will be widespread late Saturday and into Sunday. This is when the heaviest rain should fall. Expect rainfall totals to be anywhere from 2-4 inches. This could bring area streams and rivers to flood stage so make sure you are watching out for that.
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