The death toll in the deadly California Wildfires is now at 76.
For more than a week, rescue crews and local authorities have been searching for nearly 1,300 missing people.
“Many of these communities there are no homes left for them to rebuild, this is going to be a start from scratch sort of process,” said Virginia American Red Cross Communications Director Jonathan McNamara.
McNamara assisted in California for five days and says actually being there, seeing the damage, speaking to the people impacted is something that will stick with him.
“The magnitude of everything that’s around you it’s visually hard for your mind to really, truly comprehend,” he said.
The American Red Cross is working to provide supporting shelters for anybody whose lost or evacuated their homes. They’re also providing mental healthcare support for people that need it.
“We would see people come into the shelters kind of shell shocked and just talking to them, giving them an opportunity to vent and let their emotions kind of come out for the first time in a couple of days,” said McNamara. “You kind of see the life come back into them.”
McNamara says the ash and smoke is so thick even being outside for a few minutes you become covered in it to a point where you can taste it. He also said the winds, at times, are moving quicker than when he was helping in Hurricane Michael a little over a month ago.
Because of this people living in that area really only had a few minutes notice to evacuate from the fires approaching thier houses.
“When they walked outside their homes they saw their homes were surrounded by flames and smoke, and it was incredibly thick,” said McNamara. “They got in their cars to try to evacuate and they were telling us their tires were popping, their tires were exploding.”
McNamara says this will be a long healing process even after fire crews eventually get this under control, “Its kind of hard to detach yourself from it because, you know, in your mind you know that so many people are going through so much right now while I’m back here in Virginia.”
So, if you’d like to help he says a monetary donation would be the best way.