Help for a Family Fleeing the Creek Fire

Red Cross volunteer and retired firefighter, Jose Martinez, explains to Patricia Swick and Michelle Dungan the fire information map posted at Clovis North High School a Temporary Evacuation Point for those affected by the Creek Fire.


Patricia Swick was enjoying a weekend camp-out with her family, including her three young children, when she received a frantic call from her father. He warned her that a fire was roaring towards their home and told her that he and his elderly mother were evacuating immediately. 

The Swick family camp-out then came to an abrupt end.  Swick shared that the air around her family home was filling with smoke rapidly and the fire was traveling so fast that that her father only had time to gather a few essentials and flee. Unfortunately he had to leave the family’s beautiful German Shepard and some free roaming cats behind. 

Heartbroken and looking for help, Swick was at a loss as to where to go or what to do next.  Luckily, the principal of her children’s school, Michelle Dungan, of North fork Elementary School, reached out to her.  Upon hearing of their predicament, she directed the Swick family to the safety of the Red Cross Temporary Evacuation Point that was set up at Clovis North High School, in Clovis, California.

Upon arriving, Swick was welcomed and cared for by compassionate Red Cross volunteers who provided help with their immediate needs – a safe place to stay and sleep, food, and emotional support.  In addition, Swick’s concern for her family’s pets was listened to and addressed.  She was provided with the heartwarming news that her beloved dog was rescued by firefighters and was safely taken into care by the Central California Animal Disaster Team, a valued partner of the Red Cross. 

Patricia Swick expressed her gratitude saying, “I’m so grateful to everyone who helped us, especially those who’s financial donations help support the efforts  of the American Red Cross.  Thank you so much!”

Story and photo by Cindy Huge, American Red Cross Volunteer

Everyone knows the Red Cross helps people during emergencies. But you may not know that it’s also part of our mission to help you help yourself! Becoming “Red Cross Ready” for an emergency means following our simple steps in advance to ensure you can weather a crisis safely and comfortably. Being prepared may not prevent a disaster, but it will give you confidence to meet the challenge. Find out how you and your family can become “Red Cross Ready.”

You can help those affected by disasters and countless other crisis’ by making a donation to support Red Cross Disaster Relief. Your gift will enable the Red Cross to help people prepare for, respond to and recover from disasters big and small. Visit redcross.org, text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation or call 1-800-Red Cross to donate. 

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