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Local volunteers helping victims of California wildfires

Wildfires ravage Northern California
Posted at 5:13 PM, Sep 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-01 17:16:03-04

LANSING, Mich. (WSYM) - Wildfires have been sweeping across northern California for more than two weeks now. Crews are working to contain the flames which have reportedly ravaged more than 700,000 acres.

Lightning strikes have sparked hundreds of wildfires, fueled by dry air from a record-breaking heat wave. Thousands of buildings have been damaged or destroyed and emergency officials are urging people who live in the area to evacuate.

Lisa Castillo is a volunteer for the American Red Cross and a Lansing resident who is in San Jose helping people affected by wildfires in California.

“I have to keep my cool,” Castillo said, “because we can’t show them that we’re really worried. We are there for them and we provide mental health services if that’s what they need. We just have to be there for them emotionally as well.”

Castillo has assisted at temporary shelters for displaced families and will be helping to evaluate the damage caused by the fires.

“We go to the sites, the addresses, the neighborhoods and we look at the property to see if it’s completely destroyed or if it’s sustainable to where it can be fixed. If not, then we help the clients figure out as far as getting back on their feet and how to rebuild.”

As a witness to many people’s tragic stories, Castillo says that she sometimes finds it hard keeping the tears a bay.

“I’ve had to step away from having conversations with clients,” Castillo said. “I’m like, ‘Give me a minute,’ and I’ve had to walk away and suck it in a little bit.”

Castillo added that its crucial people listen to their leaders in the event of a natural disaster.

She said, “When there’s an evacuation order, please evacuate. I know you don’t want to leave your home or your belongings or animals. But, that can become a very dangerous situation so when there’s an evacuation order definitely evacuate.”