Mary Hartberg is one of many answering the call to get involved after a string of disasters has left her community reeling.
Her goal in doing so is to demonstrate the gratitude she has for coming through wildfires and the mudslide unharmed and to “bring normalcy and stability in times of chaos”
The January 9 Montecito mudslide is one of the biggest disasters in Santa Barbara County history and followed several wildfires last month.
Mary is one of hundreds of new Red Cross volunteers who have come forward to help. Along with about 100 others, she attended a Disaster Worker Institute hosted by the American Red Cross Pacific Coast chapter.
The weekend training, held January 19-21 at the Santa Barbara Community Church, featured a variety of classes for new Red Cross workers and those looking to hone their skills.
“Recent wildfires and the mudslide have impacted so much of our community and we remain vulnerable to landslides and flooding,” said Executive Director Kimberly Coley. “We continue to stay on alert after the December wildfires created instability in the landscape of the region.”
Volunteers from Santa Barbara and surrounding areas learned about shelter operations, logistics, casework, disaster assessment, psychological first aid and more.
“What you are doing is awesome,” said Jim Caesar, campus emergency manager for the University of California Santa Barbara, in a short address to the volunteers. “The power of a hug, the power of friendship, the work you’re doing for our community is really appreciated. You are plugged into a great organization that works with a lot of great partners. To do the mission of the Red Cross, we need you to be here. ”
Mary lives in an area that was under mandatory evacuation during the Thomas Fire, the largest in California history. During the Montecito mudslide, her area was under voluntary evacuation.
“The fire was scary but with the mud we were so exhausted from the previous evacuation that we decided not to evacuate,” she said.
Mary assured us that she and her home are all right and that she feels a sense of gratitude.
“I’m fine, and I want to do what I can to help the community and that’s why I’m here.”
For more information on volunteer opportunities, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Story and Photos by Carmela Burke (Los Angeles) and Renee Felton (Dallas-Fort Worth)