1st Sergeant, United States Marine Corps

I have traveled from shelter to shelter to shelter. As shelters have been consolidated, people are being moved three and four times. I’m confused. How is this happening?

This shelter was set up this weekend. It consists of a dorm for males, females and families, all housed separately. And there’s the tent area. The outside area.

How come this is happening? Is this the best we can do? An office chair and a towel?

On the first night of the shelter opening a man was evacuated to the hospital with severe hypothermia. He was in the black tent in the distance. He was found by a security guard. How is this happening at this point?

The same security guard told me to not give gift cards or cash to the organization. They will either send them to headquarters or use them to pay volunteers. This is the third time I’ve heard this – I hope this isn’t true. How is this happening?

I was at a meeting where folks were introducing themselves to the evacuees. Understand that I’m not trying to pick a fight or imply anything, but I am wondering how this could be happening?

A gentleman was explaining that if anybody had needs to simply come to one of them and they would take care of it. He was explaining that they were here to help them. In the same sentence he went on to explain that they were severely understaffed and that they could not keep the services of the shelter open past 10:00 p.m.. I thought, “How could this be happening?”

I have traveled from shelter to shelter to shelter. I have seen them open and close them. I have seen staff come and do wonderful things as volunteers. I’ve seen them leave and go back home to be replaced by others. So, it confuses me as to why, when they are consolidating shelters down to one center, how they can be short staffed.

I spoke with a young lady at this meeting. With five kids at the shelter and nowhere to go and a car broken down, she explained to me some of the frustrations with the system. This was her third shelter.

She needed to get her kids to school, but her car was broken. She also was trying to get through “the process” with the various organizations. I asked what she thought of what was being said tonight. She said it’s the same thing over and over, just like a recording.

“We are here to help you, but we don’t have the resources to help you.” I received a text from her on my drive home last night…

I don’t know why she felt she had to apologize to me. I felt I had to apologize to her. Your gift of kindness helped solve her immediate problem. We hugged. I exchanged phone numbers with her and told her that I would keep an eye on her.

There are very caring, wonderful, compassionate volunteers working to serve people. A family of seven lives here. They are waiting for “the process” to work out.

Your donations went to work last night and this family can’t thank you enough. They had no cash whatsoever.

In the family area there are so many people in need. Your donations were put to work once again. This is a young family that I have been working with since the Walmart shopping center. I can’t tell you how many layers of onion I had to peel to get them to a warm, safe place. I can now work on the next layers of the onion with them.

There is a wonderful couple in Durham who have opened up their lives to people in need. What was once a field around their house is turning into a place of safety and compassion. I’m amazed and inspired by them. It reminds me of the movie Field of Dreams. A road has been built, so trailers can move in and out without being hindered by mud.

Numerous trailers are arriving. None of this happens without effort and hard work. Your donations have gone to work here. They’re being used to purchase electrical cords and anything needed to set up spaces for families to move into.

Your donations, along with others, have helped a young man named Brandon, a fire evacuee, reclaim his self-esteem. His truck is now on the road, helping bring trailers to their new destinations and new families.

I have told you that I promised your donations would go into the hands of those in need and I will continue with that commitment to you.

There are so many people out there doing great things. My day yesterday was filled with sadness, adrenaline, anger, bewilderment, frustration and moments of quiet, loving silence.

Your donations are making a difference and I can’t thank you enough.

Scott

I received a phone call from the Salvation Army today. I have not returned that phone call because I’m a bit nervous. You see, I’m most effective just being Scott. Being nimble and quiet. A ghost, trying to identify, fulfill and provide immediate assistance. I ask questions. “Why are you here and what do you need to move to the next step?”

We talk about what that looks like sometimes and during that short conversation, I can usually apply a simple remedy. It’s not rocket science — I’m just trying to be a critical thinker. So it confuses me why the Salvation Army is reaching out to me. The person on the other line told my assistant that they wanted to talk to me. They wanted to let me know that there will be emergencies in the future and that they wanted to make sure I was on the same page with them going forward.

I don’t know if I’m going to return the call. Same page? You got to be kidding. We are not even in the same book.

How can you help out those impacted by the Camp Fire?

You have helped out so much! Here is what’s needed – Visa Gift Cards and cash. Gift cards and cash can be delivered directly to the nursery or sent to us by mail. Our address is:

Attn: Nichole
High-Hand Nursery
P.O. Box 2280
Loomis, CA 95650

You can also call us and give us a credit card over the phone. Our number is 916-652-2065. We will turn all checks and credit card transactions into cash.

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