Even with three Category 5 hurricanes within a month in the Caribbean, Florida, and Texas, the Desert to the Sea Region of the American Red Cross remains poised to prevent and alleviate human suffering in the face of emergencies wherever they occur.
With nearly 100 Red Crossers deploying to bring relief before, during, and after Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, the strength of the organization came into light when the Canyon Fire erupted along the Orange County/Riverside County line just after 1 p.m. on Monday, Sep. 25.
Fueled by warm Santa Ana winds, the fire grew and threatened homes and officials called for a mandatory evacuation order to residents of the Orchard Glen community and homes near Green River Road from the 91 Freeway to Trudy Way.
Red Crossers from Riverside County Chapter along with community members quickly sprang into action setting up a shelter in the gym at Corona High School for the nearly 40 residents who sought refuge from the flames.
“We are so fortunate for our volunteers,” said Lois Beckman, Executive Director, Riverside County Chapter, American Red Cross. “Within a few hours our Red Crossers put everything on hold and rushed out to give our neighbors a safe space to wait out the firefighting efforts that’s going on near their homes. And when you think about the work that our volunteers have done in the areas affected by the recent hurricanes, it’s a testament to their dedication to their commitment to Red Cross spirit both here and throughout the country.”
For Red Crosser Mary V., the Corona High Shelter was her first opportunity to put her training into action.
The Riverside resident recently retired from a career in secondary education and choose to volunteer with the Red Cross because she wanted to be a part of something special.
“The Red Cross is the organization that steps up,” said Mary. “Their integrity and their long history of caring for people means a lot. They are really there for the people in need. So that’s what I wanted to be a part of.”
“Having someone [who is] friendly, someone that cares be there for you with the support of the Red Cross is very important,” Mary added. “I can empathize with what our residents are feeling with not knowing what’s ahead – I think we’re all susceptible to that.”
If you would like more information on how to become a Red Cross volunteer, please visit redcross.org/volunteer.