The Bilello Family departs the American Red Cross shelter near Laporte, Co. after three days of uncertainty to return to the comfort of their home. Photo Credit: American Red Cross Volunteer Don Peitzman
As wild fires continue to devastate thousands of acres of land in Western USA, the American Red Cross is providing disaster response services, including health and mental health assistance, for those displaced across the region.
Volunteers staffing shelters in Colorado and New Mexico are helping to serve meals, coordinate with emergency management teams, and to serve overall as a comforting presence for families forced to leave their homes.
An uncontained fire in Larimer County, Colorado, has burned more than 50 thousand acres, causing the evacuation of many communities to safer areas. In New Mexico, preliminary assessments of the Little Bear wildfire in Lincoln County indicated dozens of homes have been damaged or destroyed.
Shelters opened in both states over the weekend for affected residents remain operational as the American Red Cross continues to monitor the rapidly changing situation. In addition to providing a safe place for evacuees to spend the night, the shelters also serve as a gathering place for residents to check in and get news.
Volunteer Red Cross health services workers are providing emergency first aid and evaluating the care needs of individuals. Mental health workers are tending to the emotional needs of those forced from their homes by the fires. Maribel Bilello and her family had to leave their home very quickly with nothing but the clothes they were wearing. Maribel is seven months pregnant and fled from her home with her husband, Mike, son, Trey and daughter, Mia. They took refuge at the Red Cross shelter in Colorado.
“It was difficult to leave but Red Cross nurses checked on my well-being over the last three days to make sure I was comfortable, if that’s possible at seven months pregnant,” said Maribel. “We are grateful to the Red Cross workers for taking such good care of us and our children.”