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American Red Cross Volunteers from Wisconsin Help Those Impacted by Wildfires

Almeda Fire

The west coast is experiencing some of the most catastrophic wildfires in history.

Tens of thousands of people have been forced to evacuate. Thousands of homes have been destroyed. At least 35 people have died.

American Red Cross Communications Officer for Wisconsin Justin Kern said he’s never seen destruction quite like this.

“This is my first wildfire. It’s extremely surreal,” said Kern. “[It’s] really eye opening how powerful and catastrophic these things can be and how quickly they can do a lot of damage and destroy a lot of people’s lives.”

Kern is currently based in Yuba City in Northern California.

Right now, there’s 19 people from the American Red Cross in Wisconsin that are helping people impacted by the fires.

Two are working virtually to support people.

Most of the are in Oregon, where some of the most devastating destruction has been. They’re helping with food deliveries, logistic support, and making sure people’s basic needs are being met.

Kern said COVID-19 has forced the red cross to change how it operates, but he and others are still able to support people.

“We’re still able to be in person and be that listening board for people,” said Kern. “So often when they’re going through the worst days of their lives to have someone to share and to be able to empathize is invaluable. The missing thing is we can’t give them a hug at the end.”

Kern said the American Red Cross can use volunteers and donations.  You can visit the American Red Cross website for more information.

Katie Thoresen is WXPR's News Director/Vice President.
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