In response to the wildfires ravaging the Midwest, the American Red Cross is operating shelters and offering meals to those affected. Dean Phaneuf, manager of emergency services for Red Cross of Santa Barbara County, was recently deployed to Larimer, Colorado, to work as a site director in support of the Red Cross’s Disaster Relief Operation.

The Red Cross operates what is referred to as the Human Resource Volunteer Database, where all volunteers employed by the American Red Cross are organized by their specializations, experiences, abilities, and availability. Because of Phaneuf’s past involvement in wildfire assistance, notably Santa Barbara’s numerous wildfires and the Northridge fires resulting from the 1994 earthquake, he was found on the Volunteer Database and subsequently deployed.

“In Colorado Springs, one chapter of the Red Cross exceeded capacity in one night,” said Phaneuf in an interview last week. “At this point, in Larimer, Colorado, we’re sheltering. There are a lot of people displaced every night; 32,000 people were displaced in one evening alone.”

“At least here in Larimer, we’ve begun expanding the response organization, as far as staffing and logistics go, to accommodate those displaced,” Phaneuf went on. “I’ve worked as a shelter manager for the last couple nights at one of five shelters.”

More than 600,000 acres deemed “Type-1 Incident Management” are currently ablaze in four states, with smaller fires in 14 other states. As of 3 p.m. on July 9, average national containment is 64.5 percent, and there are 39 fires currently burning in the United States.


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