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INFORMATION UPDATE: California Floods

The American Red Cross is on the ground in California, ready to help as heavy rains move into the state and millions of people face the threat of flooding. Hundreds of disaster workers and trailers of relief supplies are in California now and the Red Cross is prepared to help where needed. The Red Cross is closely monitoring the weather and coordinating with local emergency management personnel. We are ready to respond and open additional shelters if needed.

In southern California, millions of people are under flash flood watches as a storm moves in with snow, strong winds and heavy rain bringing the threat of flooding and mudslides.

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In northern California, as much as a foot of rain threatens the region around the Oroville Dam emergency spillway where almost 200,000 people evacuated earlier this week when officials feared the spillway would fail. The area remains under evacuation warnings and hundreds remain in Red Cross and community shelters. While many people returned home, some decided to stay in the shelters for now. Thursday night, more than 420 people remained in 3 Red Cross and community shelters.

Currently hundreds of disaster workers are providing shelter, meals and comfort, and relief supplies are in place to support thousands of people. Red Cross health and mental health service volunteers have already provided about 1,000 services to those with medical conditions such as helping replace medications. Ten Red Cross emergency response vehicles are on the scene to help provide meals and snacks. The Red Cross and its partners have provided more than 17,000 meals and snacks. The Red Cross is standing by to help for as long as needed.

As of February 15, 2017 our current best estimate is that the Red Cross will spend more than $1 million helping people affected by the California Floods—and this amount could grow very quickly if the situation worsens. We need the public’s support to help the thousands of people already served, and aid the Red Cross in standing ready should additional evacuations or flooding occur. This cost estimate represents our best estimate at this time and may change upwards or downwards as the situation continues to evolve and more information becomes available. It includes the costs of providing food, shelter, blankets, cots, emotional support, health services and relief supplies. It also includes some of the costs that make relief possible including logistics, staff and technology expenses to support such a significant disaster.

Staying Safe – Flood Safety

  • Listen to and obey any evacuation orders from officials. Keep informed by listening to local media and be prepared to evacuate quickly.
  • Know the difference between a flood watch and warning. A flood or flash flood watch means either is possible in your area. A warning means flooding is already occurring or will occur soon.
  • When a flood warning is issued for your area, head for higher ground and stay there.
  • Stay away from floodwaters. If you come upon a flowing stream where water is above your ankles, stop, turn around and go another way.
  • If you come upon a flooded road while driving, turn around and go another way. If you are caught on a flooded road and waters are rising rapidly around you, get out of the car quickly and move to higher ground. Most cars can be swept away by less than two feet of moving water.
  • Keep children out of the water.
  • Be especially cautious at night when it is harder to recognize flood danger.
  • Visit the Flood Safety page on the Red Cross website for a comprehensive list of safety and preparedness information.
  • You can also download the Red Cross Emergency App to have safety information available on your mobile device, including emergency weather alerts, safety information and open shelter locations. Red Cross apps are available in smartphone app stores by searching for the American Red Cross or going to redcross.org/apps.

News Reports

California Floods: Red Cross Stands Ready to Respond – Published February 17, 2017
Oroville Dam Spillway: Evacuees Tell Their Stories – Published February 17, 2017

Photos

Lunch, consisting of soup and sandwiches, is served at the Silver Dollar Fairgrounds shelter in Chico, CA on Thursday, February 16. Volunteers from the Salvation Army and AmeriCorps prepared and served the meal in the Red Cross managed shelter.

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Denise Everhart, Red Cross Division Disaster Executive, meets with Sharon, a client of the Red Cross Oroville Dam evacuation shelter in Chico, CA.

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Gail, a Red Cross volunteer, organizes disaster relief items at the Red Cross Oroville Dam evacuation shelter in Chico, CA.

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Joe and Eric jam out at the Red Cross Oroville Dam relief shelter in Chico, CA. Eric evacuated his home in Oroville with his guitar and banjo, and was happy to find another musician to play with. “When they told us to take everything, of course I brought my guitar,” Eric lightheartedly shared.

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Kate Voss is a Red Cross disaster worker from San Jose, CA. During the Oroville Dam operation Kate has managed the client registration table and sorted and organized shelter supplies, including cots and donated relief items.