In the aftermath of the Erskine Fire, Edythe Catalano was one of the hundreds of people assisted by the Red Cross after having to evacuate her home.
When the fire initially broke out it quickly spread and consumed dozens of homes in its path. Catalano’s South Lake home was one of hundreds endangered by the blaze, it was her neighbor Tim who stepped in to help.
“He said, ‘the fire is coming this way and you’ve got to get out’ and I said well I’ve got to grab some things and he said, ‘grab your cane and your purse and that’s all you’re taking,’” Catalano said.
After escaping the area threatened by the inferno, Catalano ended up at the Kernville Elementary School Red Cross shelter. A year earlier, Catalano had just moved to her South Lake home from San Pedro to be closer to her daughter and her daughter’s boyfriend, who live in Squirrel Valley.
While her daughter’s home was spared in the fire, it was left without power in the blistering heat, making it unfit for 86-year-old Catalano.
During the evacuation, Catalano was forced to leave behind many of her possessions, including her vital medications. Once at the shelter, Red Cross volunteers and medical staff assisted her in getting the medication that she relies on, free of charge.
“The Red Cross has really been good and I couldn’t believe they took care of the co-payments on my prescriptions because that is what worried me because I had my prescriptions at home, but I didn’t have many of them here. I thought oh my god, if I have to make co-payments on all of those at one time and the doctor said, ‘no I am going to go to the pharmacy and pick up all of the stuff for you and there will be no charge,’” Catalano said.
During the days following the evacuation the Red Cross shelter became her home and the volunteers, her extended family. That bond it what led one volunteer to go above and beyond to ensure Catalano was comfortable.
“So she said, ‘what you need is some slip on slippers’ and I said well I have some at home and she said, ‘well I am going to get you a pair,’” Catalano said.
As a first-time client of the Red Cross, Catalano was impressed with the compassion shown to her by the volunteers and the food.
“I think they do a really good job for all of the people they’re serving,” Catalano said.
While Catalano in unsure of how long it will take for the power to be restored at her daughter’s house so she can move in there, she does know that she will have a place with the Red Cross as long as she needs it. Somewhere she will receive a nice place to sleep, good food, the medications she relies on, and information on services to help her recover from the devastating Erskine Fire.
“Wonderful. They’ve just gone out of their way to make us as comfortable as possible under the circumstances,” Catalano said.
Cindy Huge and Zach Kramer
Red Cross Volunteers
Read more stories from the Red Cross Erskine Fire response.