MIAMI VALLEY — The American Red Cross has launched a massive disaster response in northern California, where nearly 200,000 people have been ordered to evacuate due to the potentially catastrophic collapse of the Oroville Dam.
More than 2,500 residents were in Red Cross and community shelters as of Tuesday morning, and the Red Cross is preparing to shelter and feed as many as 5,000 in the upcoming days. As of Tuesday afternoon, no volunteers from the Northern Miami Valley Ohio Chapter of the American Red Cross have been deployed to the area, but the chapter has been asked to have a six-member shelter team on standby and ready to assist if the situation changes and more help is requested.
“The Red Cross has shelters open now and more relief supplies and disaster workers are on the way to provide assistance for people in harm’s way,” said Brad Kieserman, vice president, disaster operations and logistics for the Red Cross. “This is a potentially catastrophic situation – affecting thousands of people and homes – and our first priority is making sure people have a safe place to stay. We will be in the community to offer comfort and support for as long as needed.”
The evacuation orders came Sunday night in Butte and Yuba counties, Yuba City and Marysville, as damage was discovered to the Oroville Dam, the nation’s highest dam. The dam currently remains intact, but the emergency spillway is eroding. The governor of California has declared a state of emergency and substantial search and rescue help is being deployed, including the California National Guard and Highway Patrol, along with swift water rescue teams.
“Our volunteers train and exercise all year long so that they will be able to respond to not only local disasters, but national ones as well,” stated Lynne Gump, Executive Director of the Northern Miami Valley Ohio Chapter. “This allows our volunteers to come together during times of crisis and work together as if they’ve worked together for years, allowing for not only a seamless operation but more importantly, to allow us to better serve those who need us.
Those wishing to support the victims of the disaster may do so by making a donation online at RedCross.org, calling 1-800-REDCROSS or texting CAFLOODS to 90999.