Who you gonna call for in Tahoe for help? | SierraSun.com

Who you gonna call for in Tahoe for help?

Jean Eick
Sierra Sun

Do you ever wonder what happens when a family is displaced by fire, a tornado strikes or a wildfire leaves an entire neighborhood homeless?

These people can count on the American Red Cross, that’s what.

Lynn Felsch is the Tahoe Area Preparedness and Response Manager for the American Red Cross. She is a 30-year resident and has been with the ARC since Hurricane Katrina devastated the United States in 2005.

“I took the training in Sacramento and then returned to my home in Tahoe,” said Felsch. “A year went by before I received a call from the Red Cross.”

The call to Felsch arrived at midnight on Jan. 1, 2006. She heard Highway 80 was closed in both directions and a shelter was needed for stranded people stranded in Truckee. The Red Cross provided shelter for the motorists at the Sierra Mountain Middle School in Truckee with the help of a local church group.

“Over the two-night period, we served 300 people,” Felsch said. The first night the organization helped 200 people in need and the second night 100.

This experience made Felsch realize the Tahoe area needed more disaster help. She began recruiting and now has more than 30 volunteers trained for both local and national disasters. In 2007, the Red Cross assisted at both the Angora fire and Washoe fire at Lake Tahoe.

“I was on my way back to Tahoe from a wedding when I received the call about the Angora fire,” Felsch said.

The Red Cross was opened a shelter within hours and remained open for eight days. The group served more than 10,000 meals and snacks to the families that lost their homes and to the responders, and it provided supplies such as clean-up kits, flashlights and work gloves.

The Red Cross opened a shelter in Tahoe City after the Washoe fire later that same summer.

The ARC added two additional disaster trailers with funds from the Angora fire. The ARC now has six trailers: one in Truckee that holds 100 cots, one in Incline with 100 cots, one in Tahoe Vista with 50 cots, one in Tahoe City with 50 cots, and two trailers with 50 cots each on South Shore. The funds also provided for a truck to pull the trailers and an Emergency Response Vehicle.

The Emergency Response Vehicle can serve 1,000 meals a day. The ERV and Felsch recently returned from Texas’ Hurricane Ike where they fed 1,000 people a day.

“It is most fulfilling to help those people,” Felsch said.

The ARC also responds to smaller disasters ” like when a family loses their home to a fire. They provide food, clothing and put the family up in a hotel.

The ARC will be at SnowFest activities and encourages people to sign up as volunteers for the Tahoe disaster team. Training is provided by the ARC. They are also in need of people to teach first aid and help with educating school children. Please contact Felsch at felschi@sacsierraredcross.org or (530) 391-8234.