The Power of Community – Neighbor Helping Neighbor

by Dave Wagner, Public Affairs Volunteer

On Thursday, March 9, 2023, NOAA issued a warning that an atmospheric river – the technical term for a torrential rainstorm – would hit Central California. In the following weeks, storm after storm drenched the entire state, causing devastating flooding and forcing entire communities to evacuate to higher ground.

In response to theses storms, the Red Cross opened shelters in a dozen communities to provide emergency housing for hundreds of families. One of the hardest hit areas was on the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada in the town of Porterville. The Red Cross and their partners opened a shelter at the Porterville College providing cots and blankets, three daily meals, shower and laundry facilities, and even a kennel for pets.

Volunteers from across the country came to help, but local Dana Sakoda jumped in too. She’s a retired teacher from Fresno on her first disaster deployment. “I was ready to do something different after retirement that would benefit others and Red Cross provides that opportunity. I wanted to do something to make the world a little bit better place.”

Both Jesse Shields (left) and Julio Dominguez sought shelter with the Red Cross. Dominguez was overwhelmed by the help he was receiving and stated “What would I do without the Red Cross? I have no idea! It’s a blessing.”

Red Cross is partnering with the Central California Animal Disaster Team (CCADT) to care for the pets of families staying in the shelter. More than 60 dogs and five cats are receiving care at least equal to the human members of their families. Quality food, air-conditioned quarters, veterinary care and lots of walks through-out the day are just some of the amenities offered by CCADT.

You can help! Join the Red Cross by signing up to become a volunteer or by making a financial donation at

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