Story and photo by Cindy Huge, Red Cross Public Affairs Volunteer
Just as she was waking up, Jessica Alvarez received a text warning to evacuate her home. Flames from the Creek Fire were bearing down on their neighborhood. A few minutes after this call, the air around the Alvarez home was filling with choking smoke. Her young, chronically ill daughter began to cough and experience shortness of breath.
With precious seconds ticking away, her mind began to race. “It seemed as if everything was moving in warp speed,” Alvarez recalls. “I immediately carried my weak daughter into the car with her two sisters following close behind. I started the car with the air conditioning running to help her breath easier, then I ran back to get a few things as the fire was approaching our home.”
But in the frantic move to evacuate, Alvarez forgot to pack her daughter’s critically needed medical equipment and medications. Remembering what she’d forgotten just a few miles down the road, she wanted to turn back but it was too late – the fire was too close and the roads were already closed.
Alvarez was able to get to a Red Cross evacuation center, where she was provided with a hotel room and other essentials like food and emotional support. Desperate for help to replace her daughter’s medical equipment and medicines, she turned again to the Red Cross, dialing the number she had been given earlier. She explained her predicament to a Red Cross volunteer and was met with compassion and understanding. She was quickly connected with a Red Cross nurse, Debby Dailey.
“When Nurse Debby called me back,” admits Alvarez, “I was crying hysterically. But she remained calm and reassured me that I wasn’t alone in this and that together we would get this figured out.”
Nurse Debby quickly tapped into her knowledge of available resources to provide overnight shipment of the lifesaving medications and equipment for Alvarez’s 7-year-old daughter. Her compassionate care and attention were met with tears of gratitude when she was able to meet the Alvarez family in person at the hotel where they were staying. Jessica Alvarez could not hold back the tears as she thanked Nurse Debby over and over for helping her little girl. Behind all the masks there were big smiles from the entire family as Jessica Alvarez tearfully shared, “I am so very, very thankful for the help and support from the American Red Cross.”
You can help those affected by disasters and countless other crisis’ by donating 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. Please visit www.redcross.org, text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation or call 1-800-Red Cross to donate.