State responds to Hurricane Laura, west coast wildfires

Published 9:21 am Saturday, September 12, 2020

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As of Sept. 11, the American Red Cross of the Tennessee Region has deployed 69 volunteers in response to disasters occurring since August, when Hurricane Laura first made landfall. The nonprofit has 55 actively deployed volunteers who are responding to the wildfires out west and to the recovery efforts still going on in Louisiana and Texas.

Some of the volunteers are responding virtually, while others are responding in person.

“We are committed to providing hope to our neighbors in need, both in Tennessee and nationwide during this challenging time,” said Joel Sullivan, regional executive director for American Red Cross of Tennessee Region. “The need is great for volunteers and for donors in this response.

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“COVID-19 has completely changed the way we provide disaster assistance. It is costly, and the way we shelter clients and feed has added extra safety precautions. We are fully committed to providing safe shelter for both our clients and our volunteers and staff.”

The Tennessee Region is continuing its efforts to coordinate its volunteer response to the predicted upswing in storm activity and the continuing rise in Oregon and California wildfires.

Latest information on wildfires:

Explosive wildfires are devastating communities across the Western United States causing a very dangerous situation and forcing thousands of people to leave their homes.

With five states impacted, this represents 54.2 million people – that is over 16 percent of the nation’s population.

These unprecedented and devastating wildfires have now scorched millions of acres and destroyed entire towns, forcing tens of thousands of people to leave their homes.

Many highways are closed, and thousands of people are without power. Smoke from the wildfires hid the sun yesterday in San Francisco and darkened skies to an orange hue.

The full extent of the number of homes destroyed, people injured, and lost lives due to the fires are not yet known.

In Oregon, the governor is predicting that the fires could result in the greatest loss of human life and property in the state’s history.

In California, fires have now burned as many as 2.5 million acres. The Bear Fire, north of Sacramento, forced thousands of people to evacuate and is burning in some of the same areas as the 2018 Camp Fire, which destroyed the town of Paradise.

The total amount of acres burned and the fact that 6 of the top 20 largest wildfires in California history have occurred in 2020 makes this a record-breaking year.

In Washington alone, several large fires are burning. Most homes in the town of Malden are destroyed, as well as the City Hall, post office, library and fire station.

Wildfires are also burning in Utah, Nevada, Arizona, Idaho, Wyoming and Montana.

The Red Cross Response:

Hundreds of Red Cross disaster workers are helping evacuees cope, both on the ground and virtually. This includes replacing prescription medications, eyeglasses or other medical equipment.

On Sept. 9 alone, the Red Cross and its partners provided more than 6,600 people with safe refuge from the wildfires. Individuals were lodged in emergency shelters and, in some cases, hotels across California, Colorado, Montana, Oregon and Washington.

Of these, more than 5,000 were in California.

Over 370 more were lodged in hotels in Washington, with one shelter open in Okanagan County where 91 people spent the night.

More than 1,000 are safe housed in Oregon, with six sheltering facilities open across the state.

About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters. The nonprofit also supplies about 40 percent of the nation’s blood, teaches skills that save lives, provides international humanitarian aid and supports military members and their families.

The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission.

For more information, log onto: or visit the organization’s Twitter account at: @RedCross.

If you are interested in volunteering with the American Red Cross go to:

If you would like to donate to help the nonprofit serve its mission of providing help to those in need visit: