Last year’s wildfire season was a traumatic one for families and communities in Oregon, California and other states across the western U.S. In Oregon, some of the most destructive wildfires in state history destroyed thousands of homes, while multiple California blazes consumed over 4.1 million acres.
In response, the American Red Cross was there with immediate relief for tens of thousands of residents who were forced from their homes amid the added challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. While taking extra steps to keep people safe during this ongoing public health emergency, thousands of Red Cross volunteers and employees worked night and day for months to provide shelter, food, water, cleanup supplies and health, mental health and spiritual care support for survivors—many of whom lost nearly everything to the flames.
This immediate relief made a real difference for Oregon resident Ellen Simonson. “I can’t thank you enough for being there in this tragic event,” she said. “It meant so much to have my basic needs met—and sometimes just someone to talk to. It felt like someone cared,” Ellen added.
Six months later, as the western U.S. braces for another potentially devastating wildfire season, many people around the region are still trying to move on from the impact of the 2020 fires. Thanks to generous support from compassionate donors, the Red Cross has stood by the sides of individuals and families to help meet their pressing recovery needs, providing financial assistance to hard-hit residents, aid with recovery planning and much more as survivors get back on their feet and begin to rebuild their lives.
Building Bridges from Hardship to Recovery for Wildfire Survivors
As many people who were severely affected by the 2020 western wildfires struggled to pick up the pieces, the Red Cross provided immediate funds to help them with essentials like food, transportation, housing needs and clothing. In the months since the wildfires ended, the Red Cross has continued to provide financial assistance to some of the most significantly impacted survivors, helping them build bridges from hardship to recovery.
Recovery from destructive disasters like these is a team effort, and trained Red Cross volunteers and workers continue to partner closely with nonprofit and civic organizations, local businesses and governments to care for communities and families. They are helping wildfire survivors to plan their next steps and identify available recovery resources, as well as offering comfort, encouragement and guidance through this often-challenging journey.
In addition to financial assistance and one-on-one support, the Red Cross is making plans to fund work carried out by partner organizations with specialized expertise to address unmet longer-term recovery needs in the affected communities and help their residents become better prepared for and more resilient against future crises.
Compassionate Supporters Power Western Wildfires Relief and Recovery
Thanks to our generous donors, the Red Cross has raised $48.7 million, including the value of critical donated goods and services, to help people impacted by the 2020 Western Wildfires.
As of March 31, 2021, the Red Cross had already spent or made commitments to spend approximately $49.8 million on emergency relief and recovery efforts for these wildfires in California, Colorado, Montana, Oregon, Washington and Wyoming. We will continue to provide services for long-term recovery in the impacted communities.
In this challenging time for people across the country, those in need turn to the Red Cross for vital support when help can’t wait. Your donation helps us fulfill this promise. The Red Cross is deeply grateful for the remarkable commitment of our donors, which has already made a meaningful impact for those we serve. To help us continue to provide vital services as we carry out our lifesaving mission amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, please click here.
Visit our Western Wildfires story map for more about the Red Cross response to the devastating 2020 wildfire season – 2020 Western Wildfires (arcgis.com)