PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The American Red Cross Cascade Region has been busy this summer, responding to 83 incidents in July alone.
That’s an average of 2 disasters in Oregon and Southwest Washington a day and a 32% increase from last year.
Red Cross volunteers and staff provide temporary housing, food, clothes, comfort kits and recovery services information to people affected by disasters, mostly house fires and wildfires.
“The majority of the disasters that we’re responding to are home fires and home fires can be a really dangerous thing,” said Monique Dugaw, Communication Director for the Red Cross Cascades Region.
House fires are dangerous and in many cases, preventable.
“These are not a massive earthquake, which are often the types of disasters we think about preparing for,” Dugaw said. “These are our everyday disasters that can displace a family and cause a significant life change.”
One of those displaced people in need was Arthur Scudder. On the morning of July 4, he nearly lost everything.
“My son, Craig, he comes running upstairs and says ‘dad the house is on fire the house is on fire!'” Scudder said.
A fire started in the front of their house and spread through the kitchen and laundry room, causing significant damage to the house.
“I didn’t have anything,” Scudder said. “I didn’t have nothing. I didn’t have no money. I didn’t have no money in the bank. I didn’t have nothing at all.”
The Red Cross stepped in and help save Scudder’s life.
“That was something special,” Scudder said. “It let me have a place to live. Gave us food to eat, stuff like that for 4 days until I got paid.”
The Red Cross helps people just like Scudder every day, but they also have tips for avoiding disasters. First: practice a drill, making sure your family can escape a home on fire in under 2 minutes. Second: Test your fire alarms every month.
“We want people to be prepared,” Dugaw said.