With seven fires over the past 30 days, the pace of Red Cross assistance calls is up dramatically from the 16 to 18 the office normally responds to during the year.
“It’s very unusual for this time of year,” Terri Burross, interim director of the Pecan Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross, said. “We usually budget about $6,000 a year (for fire relief).”
The assistance that the local Red Cross chapter offers during fires helps both the families involved as well as the fire fighters. The chapter has a canteen that volunteers drive to the scene of both house and grass fires that contains water, Gatorade, sandwiches and snacks for the firefighters who need a quick replenishment of energy.
The chapter tries to fill the immediate needs for families who are the victims of a fire. That usually includes up to three nights in a local hotel or motel as well as a food and clothing allowance.
“We try to give them a place to stay and eat. They get a pre-paid card that they can use for food and clothes at any of the local stores, but they can only use it for food and clothes,” Burross said.
On Aug. 14, a family of five lost everything when their home burned to the ground. The Red Cross was there.
“We had another house fire last evening … a complete loss. Five member family home. Family lucky to get out spent several hours at the hospital,” Burross said in an e-mail to members of her local board of directors. “MM worked from around 1:30 to close to 5 this morning on this one. It was very humid last night and we also canteened the firefighters.”
During those seven fires, $4,200 in assistance has been offered, meaning the chapter’s fund is nearly spent less than two months into its fiscal year.
“The Chapter has (also) responded to two grass fires and assisted individuals and families on four home fires and one four-plex apartment fire,” Burross’ e-mail said.
“If we could replenish what we’ve put out the past 30 days, that would be great,” Burross said. “Or if they would like to replenish our supplies and goods, with bottles of water or Gatorade, all those things would be helpful.”
Burross said the main she wanted to make sure is that the public understands that there is a local chapter of the Red Cross, and that its local programming and assistance are funded by its own locally-raised money.
“Local disasters all come out of us, out of our funds. We’re like a hidden good thing. People never know what we do until something happens,” she said.
She added that the chapter has been very busy lately working with the 600 or so soldiers currently training at Camp Bowie prior to deployment overseas. She said the chapter is working on eight to 10 cases each day, and is available around the clock to service men and women and their families.