Red Cross needs mental health volunteers for California wildfires
Hundreds of people remain displaced by a Northern California wildfire that incinerated the town of Paradise, killing dozens and destroying thousands of homes and businesses. A team from the American Red Cross New Jersey Region were deployed days ago to lend their support.
The 10 local volunteers plan to be in California throughout the Thanksgiving holiday to help victims of the deadliest wildfire in state history. Regional CEO Rosie Taravella said it's been a rough season for hurricanes and fires. She said she she's awed by the volunteers' commitment.
Taravella said the New Jersey team is helping thousands of other volunteers from Red Cross organizations in shelters and evacuation centers. They will provide immediate needs such as food and a place to sleep. There are about 900 people in 15 of the Red Cross shelters.
What is crucial, however, is the need for mental health volunteers.
"We have a number of folks who are trained in mental health that have had a career in it, and we're finding more and more with disasters such as these where the fatality rate is so high, that their services are needed just to keep people calm and comfortable in such a tragedy," said Taravella.
She added that volunteers were eager to go to the West Coast to help because this is not a typical disaster seen on the East Coast. Taravella said some of the volunteers have reported back that it's a very emotional scene out there.
"The recovery of people whose lives have been lost is being compared to 9/11," said Taravella.
Even though volunteers are out in California, New Jerseyans can do their part to help their local Red Cross. Taravella said they are always grateful for cash donations. People can call 1-800-RED-CROSS or visit www.redcross.org People can also text CAWILDFIRES to 90999 and they will automatically make a $10 donation.
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