1 minute readDisaster
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Operation Oroville Dam: Update from the Shelters

With contributions by Maggie Buckenmayer

Last Sunday, roughly 180,000 residents of Oroville, California, and surrounding areas were given an evacuation order after officials spotted severe erosion on the emergency spillway at Lake Oroville. Surprised residents had just a couple hours to evacuate.

Stories from Shelter Residents

Red Cross shelter resident Magen Miranda recounted her fear when the evacuation happened. “I heard a reverse 9-1-1 tone on my phone, and shortly after the fire department was knocking on my door with loud speakers telling me and my neighbors we had two hours to evacuate. I was scared to death, so I packed up my car and headed to the Red Cross shelter at the Silver Dollar Fairgrounds in Chico.”

Despite mandatory evacuation orders recently being downgraded to just a warning, Magen is holding her ground. “My friends and I are staying at the shelter. I feel safer in the shelter than at home. I’m worried about the storm that is headed our way and don’t want to evacuate again.”

Meet Magen and some of her fellow shelter residents being supported by our disaster workers and partners.

Red Crossers at Work: The Force Behind the Operation

John and Julie take a Valentine moment while providing shelter support.
John and Julie take a Valentine moment while providing shelter support.

For Red Cross volunteers John and Julie Stone of San Diego, packing their suitcases and heading out of town when the Red Cross needs them has become a way of life. When the call came for sheltering support on the day of the Oroville Dam evacuations, John and Julie were called immediately to help staff Chico’s Silver Dollar Fairground shelter. With bags packed, they arrived within a day’s notice and immediately began helping evacuees at the shelter.

With over 17 years of combined Red Cross volunteer experience and four joint national disaster relief operations, this couple also volunteers for their local chapter and make up one of San Diego’s disaster action teams.

While volunteering at the fairground shelter and helping evacuees, Julie relates, “Going on disaster operations together enables us to truly appreciate each other’s strengths in a way we might never have known.” John adds, “Helping people begin the road to recovery gives us a great satisfaction.”

More than 300 Red Cross disaster workers deployed to help support evacuees in California. Meet a few more of them below.

Read more about our response on redcross.org.