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USA: Red Cross offers care, comfort as California wildfires rage

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Sunday, November 16, 2008 - As wildfires race across many parts of Southern California, Red Cross volunteers have opened the doors of shelters to ensure evacuees have a safe place to rest. Fires are unpredictable and move as the wind shifts. But Red Cross help remains reliable even in the most uncertain of situations.

Sunday morning, nearly 300 people awoke in Red Cross shelters in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Bernadino Counties. Hundreds of other evacuees stopped in during the day for a meal or to get information about their neighborhoods. Red Cross shelters serve as a place where people can gather with their neighbors, get a good night's rest or grab a meal. Perhaps, most importantly, shelters serve as place where evacuees can get emotional support. That emotion support is a welcome relief for people who fled their homes and face an uncertain future.

The Red Cross Safe and Well website also offers a way for evacuees to keep in touch with loved ones who live outside the fire affected areas. Evacuees can register on the site and choose from a menu of pre-scripted messages that their loved ones can access. For people who don't have internet access, operators at 1-800-REDCROSS (1-800-733-2767) can register evacuees. Relatives can also use the site to list evacuees so friends and extended family can have the peace of mind of knowing everyone is safe. To access Safe and Well, go to www.Redcross.org and use the Safe and Well link on the front page.

All American Red Cross disaster assistance is free, made possible by voluntary donations of time and money from the American people. You can help the victims of thousands of disasters across the country each year, disasters like the Wildfires, by making a financial gift to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund, which enables the Red Cross to provide shelter, food, counseling and other assistance to victims of disaster. The American Red Cross honors donor intent. If you wish to designate your donation to a specific disaster please do so at the time of your donation. Call 1-800-REDCROSS or 1-800-257-7575 (Spanish). Contributions to the Disaster Relief Fund may be sent to your local American Red Cross chapter or to the American Red Cross, P. O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013. Internet users can make a secure online contribution by visiting http://www.redcross.org.

American Red Cross
All American Red Cross disaster assistance is provided at no cost, made possible by voluntary donations of time and money from the American people. The Red Cross also supplies nearly half of the nation's lifesaving blood. This, too, is made possible by generous voluntary donations. To help the victims of disaster, you may make a secure online credit card donation or call 1-800-HELP NOW (1-800-435-7669) or 1-800-257-7575 (Spanish). Or you may send your donation to your local Red Cross or to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, D.C. 20013. To donate blood, please call 1-800-GIVE-LIFE (1-800-448-3543), or contact your local Red Cross to find out about upcoming blood drives. © Copyright, The American National Red Cross. All Rights Reserved.