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Saturday, January 19 , 2019, 10:56 am | Fair 61º

El Niño Special Report: A Noozhawk partnership with Montecito Bank & Trust, Visiting Nurse & Hospice Care, Cox, Frank Schipper Construction Co, Servpro, and the American Red Cross
Public Safety

Local Red Cross Calling for Volunteers to Prepare for El Niño

The American Red Cross of the Pacific Coast is calling for new volunteers to help prepare for disaster response before El Niño arrives. The local Red Cross is hosting a series of upcoming events in order to recruit and train new seasonal volunteers who will be able to support disaster response in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo Counties.

The next two events will take place Saturday, Jan. 9, 2016 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the following two locations: Red Cross office, 2707 State Street in Santa Barbara; and PG&E Facility, 1250 Kendall Road in San Luis Obispo.

Anyone interested in participating can register and learn more by visiting redcross.org/elninopreparedness.

“We want to prepare as much as possible before the storms make an impact in our communities during El Niño,” said Red Cross Disaster Program Manager Ryan McMahon. “By training local residents ahead of time, we are able to increase our ability to respond more efficiently and help those in need.”

The trainings are a part of a multi-event El Niño preparedness campaign to reach out to communities that may be impacted by severe storms this winter. 

By attending one of these single day events, volunteers will learn the skills necessary for setting up and operating a Red Cross shelter in order to provide temporary lodging, food and comfort to community members affected by flooding or landslides. 

The Red Cross is working closely with community and government partners like meteorologists, the Office of Emergency Services and first responders to develop strategies for responding to what could be a severe El Niño season.

“We’ve been having meetings in many of our communities to determine where we may be called upon to provide relief,” said McMahon, “After a severe drought and wildfire season, our disaster teams are prepared for and understand the risk of landslides and flooding in these areas.”

In addition to volunteer-training sessions, the Red Cross is urging local families to be prepared for a severe winter season. There are several steps that anyone can take to make sure they are safe during winter storms:

  1. When a flood or flash flood warning is issued for your area, head for higher ground and stay there.
  2. Stay away from floodwaters. If you come upon a flowing stream where water is above your ankles, stop, turn around and go another way.
  3. Listen for unusual sounds that might indicate moving debris, such as trees cracking or boulders knocking together.
  4. Winterize your vehicle and keep the gas tank full. A full tank will keep the fuel line from freezing.
  5. Practice an emergency plan with your family and keep an emergency kit ready to go with essential items.

Visit redcross.org/prepare to learn more about creating an emergency plan for your family.

— Jessica Piffero is the regional director of communications for the American Red Cross.


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