By Taylor Poisall, Red Cross Public Affairs
Pauline Meachum is no stranger to evacuating from wildfires. Last week, the Windy Fire forced her to have to leave her home for the third time as a Camp Nelson resident. Since her first experience evacuating, she has learned some lessons and shared her wisdom with us.
“We didn’t take much the first time we evacuated… that was a mistake. But I’m prepared now. I have my bug out bag filled with my stuff – you don’t want to forget underwear and socks.” Besides bringing her comfort items and clothing, Meachum even packed her mini-fridge, microwave and a toaster so that she could maintain a sense of normalcy and be ready with supplies for wherever she would safely wait out the wildfire. “I left those items in the car, the Red Cross is taking care of meals for us,” she shared.
One of the most important things she brings with her is her beloved 20 year-old cat, Moto. Moto has evacuated twice in the last two years with her as well. He currently is being cared for by the Central California Animal Disaster Team that has a pet shelter on site for evacuees. “The best thing is that we’re together,” Meachum stated.
“I even bring these flowers with me. It’s their third time evacuating too. They help spruce up the place.”
“Here at the [Red Cross] shelter, everything is provided for you. That’s nice for us. There’s a lot of stress, but [Tulare County] is providing therapy and mental health services, nurses are here, then we have a little store with volunteers giving us supplies. They have it set up so we can watch the Community Meetings on Facebook Live so us locals know what’s going on with the fire. Those are so helpful to have.”
“If it weren’t for the Red Cross, I’d be broke. It’s expensive to evacuate to motels for several days, so I came to the shelter. I’ve sent pictures of my meals to my friends to show them I’m treated well here.”
Despite the unknown of being evacuated, Meachum is still continuing to teach her students in her English as a Second Language (ESL) classes. When Red Cross disaster workers learned of this, they set her up with her own table near an outlet so she could continue teaching her virtual lessons.
“My students wonder where I am because my background is a little different these days, but I keep carrying on.”Pauline Meachum