Serves California Fire Victims

By Becky Hudson – Murray County News writer – 

Watching the news and hearing about all the devastation from the hurricanes in the south to the fires on the west coast, motivated Faye Schuur to join in the Red Cross relief efforts in any way that was needed. “I had a choice of heading to Texas to help with hurricanes or to California to help with the fires. Since I was gone the previous weekend, I hadn’t realized that more fires had started in California that weekend.”

Since the start of the CAL fire disaster that began on October 8, she says, responders fought 250 new wildfires. At the peak of the wildfires there were 21 major wildfire that in total burned over 245,000 acres, and 11,000 firefighters battled the destructive fires that at one time forced 100,000 to evacuate their homes. “The fires destroyed 8,800 structures and sadly took the lives of 42 people,” Schuur reports.

So she left for Sacramento on October 11, on a two-week commitment, returning home October 26. After joining three men from the metropolitan and St. Cloud area, the group of four became the “Minnesota Team”, and arrived at the Red Cross Chapter in California where they were assigned to a shelter.

“We learned that the shelter they were going to send us to in Fairfield, CA, might be closing down due to fires getting too close, and while we were getting processed, our destination changed two more times,” Schuur recalls.

Finally, the crew ended up assigned to open a shelter in the Sacramento area, well over 50 miles from the fires.   So after arriving at the Red Cross office at 6:45 pm, it was 10:30 that night when the group was given a walk-through of the property at the Cal Expo/California State Fair that was to be used as a shelter.  “The next morning we were up at 6:00 to begin setting up the shelter,” Schuur says.

Although they did receive a couple of clients the first day, it became apparent that the center would best be used to serve as a Red Cross relief station and shelter for all staff and volunteers.  The Red Cross chapter, which was across the street, was getting overwhelmed with volunteers coming from all over the United States,” Schuur says.  “So it was more cost effective to find a different place for the clients.”

At one point the center housed 135 staff and volunteers.  “Most meals were donated,” Schuur says, “and so we had many meals of pasta and pizza.” One day the shelter served 18 people and the next it served 75 and so it was tough to determine numbers each day as they had no idea who would be leaving the area and how many people would be arriving. One day Food Network Chef Guy Fieri provided the barbecued chicken to the hungry workers and Chef Keith Breedlove and his crew served up the meals.

For the complete article, please see the November 8th edition of the Edgerton Enterprise. If you do not currently receive the Enterprise, CLICK HERE for information on how to subscribe!

Chandler resident Faye Schuur (second from left) serves with the Red Cross during ravaging fires in California.