What happens when the disaster’s over?


American Red Cross communications vehicle on the scene / photo: arlen

On Monday night, I spent several hours at a fire on Valencia Street in San Francisco’s Mission district. A four-alarm blaze destroyed two apartment buildings, putting 59 people out on the street. I spent the evening checking in with clients, seeing if they had a place to stay, and setting up a shelter at the local rec center. I filled out damage assessment forms and I kept track of reports of missing pets.

As a Disaster Action Team member, these tasks have become relatively routine. What intrigued me about this fire was the community’s response in the days following. On Tuesday, the San Francisco Chronicle ran an article about how the fire victims are coping, a side of local disasters many people don’t see. Yesterday, SFist featured a plea for community support from younger victims of the fire.

As a volunteer, I have enjoyed seeing these bits of news and keeping tabs on the clients I typically only interact with immediately after a disaster. I’m glad their stories are being told. And I hope they continue reaching out to the broader community, utilizing Red Cross services and catalyzing the compassion of their neighbors. Here’s to Disaster Services 2.0!

Leave a Reply