Local Resident on Both Sides of Disaster Response

Paul Tetrault lives in the Forest Falls community of the San Bernardino Mountains. As a member of the Mill Creek Canyon Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) he undertands the danger wildfires pose first hand.

Fueled by triple digit temperatures and high winds, the Valley Fire exploded to 1000 acres in and around Forest Falls, forcing mandatory evacuations.

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Paul Tetrault at the Inland Leaders Charter School in Yucaipa during the Valley Fire

Paul immediately put his CERT training into action.

“When the fire broke out I went door to door encouraging my neighbors to evacuate,” said Tetrault. “I collected dogs and cats from my neighbor’s homes that I knew were already down the hill because they couldn’t get past the police roadblock. I drove the pets down the hill to reunite them with their owners.”

Once he finished his duties as a CERT responder, Paul and his family found themselves as clients in the Red Cross shelter at the Inland Leaders Charter School in Yucaipa. The school, housed in a building erected in 1911, educates children from pre-K to 8th grade.

“The Red Cross was excellent,” said 55-year-old photographer and graphic designer. “When we got to the shelter we noticed there were more volunteers than clients. It looked like you [Red Cross] were ready for whatever. The Red Cross served us dinner and we had an air-conditioned space to sleep for the night and the staff here took great care of us. We are very thankful for the work Red Cross is doing here today.”

In the span of a few hours Paul went from a responder to a resident. Thanks to Red Cross volunteers, residents fleeing disasters can have a safe place to stay until the danger passes. If you would like to become a Red Cross volunteer, you can start the process by visiting redcross.org/volunteer.

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