This past Sunday I went up to Chico, CA to volunteer as a healthcare provider for the evacuees in northern California. There was a church that acted as a makeshift ER room as the hospitals are overwhelmed with patients right now. There were a lot of nursing students from all over the Bay Area getting their experiences in. I was so happy to see all the doctors that I met on my shift were Vietnamese females. The doctors on the other shifts were also females. We rock.
I arrived with my family at 6 am. My kids continue to sleep in the car with my husband while I checked in. Since it was still early, volunteers checked-in in the dark.
It was about 8 am when we started to see mass movements. The church gymnasium served as a medical ward, the other rooms were family rooms with children’s playroom, the back of the church housed a tent city, and army tents were triages. There were about 200+ people seeking shelter at the church. There were also homeless people in the area seeking refuge from the cold and air pollution. No one was turned away. People and their pets slept together, along with their food waste and garbage. There was also a norovirus breakout just days before.
We walked around, asked people if they needed help with anything. We brought food and drinks to their cot. We helped them onto their commode, changed their bandage, removed their IV, gave medications, even babysat their children. Emotions were higher in the family unit as young parents with multiple children stuck in a little room for a week, were easily agitated and aggravated. I had to personally step in between a young mother with her sick infant and her older children before she got physical with them. It was sad and completely understandable. A nurse took the infant and I took the older children to allow mom to exhale.
The evacuees were grateful. Food were being served all day long with breakfast, lunch and dinner, and snacks in between. It was hard to get medical history on anyone as their health centers burnt down. As it was Sunday, many places were closed. This is the epitome of a start over. They don’t have a choice. Some younger folks were looking forward to a new beginning, be it in Paradise, CA or a new place. A combat veteran on disability told me he was contemplating a move to the east coast so this maybe his incentive to do so after he receives his FEMA check. It was good to hear people planning their future. There were some sense of hopelessness but the majority were optimistic. Most of the guests at the church were senior citizens and a quarter were psyche ward residents. They appreciated the fact that there were so many people there ready and willing to help.
Please continue to donate and help wherever you can for the people who lost their homes, both in northern and southern California. We are burning at both ends. It is bad. The air quality here is like being in a smoke-filled room 24/7. We need rain. Somebody make it rain. Millions have been praying. Please continue to pray. Our hearts and efforts will continue to help the victims of the Camp fire. We hope that you will start as well, or continue until things are more settled. Please help. Thank you.