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PCIRC Executive Director Johanna Downey, left, oversees a range of community services for persons with various resource needs. Among her team members are Senior Family Advocate Cathy Rahmeyer and Administrative Director Scott Corey. Photos by Roni Java

Crisis center helps dozen of families from devastating Camp Fire disaster

Plumas CASA Volunteer Coordinator Casey Jordan-Pruitt is one of PCIRC’s friendly, helpful staff.

Tucked away in downtown Quincy, the busy staff of the Plumas Crisis Intervention and Resource Center has been quietly assisting dozens of families impacted by the Butte County Camp Fire disaster that swept out of control virtually as soon as it started on Nov. 8 near Pulga.

Even with PCIRC’s extensive experience providing direct service programs to vulnerable and high-risk populations, it would seem almost impossible to know where to begin to help evacuees who have fled the explosive fire that, as of late last week, had destroyed more than 11,800 structures on over 140,000 acres.

News stories have reported the trauma affecting 52,000 evacuees and survivors from Concow, Magalia, Paradise and other parts of the county who do not have homes or jobs to return to — and may not for months or even years.

On Nov. 15, authorities listed 631 people as missing and said 63 had died.

“We were part of the front-line help for evacuees during the first 72 hours of the disaster,” said PCIRC Executive Director Johanna Downey.

The organization works throughout Plumas and Sierra counties, coordinating with government agencies and regional entities.

  “We work directly with Plumas County’s Office of Emergency Services (in any situation involving a disaster) and on the Camp Fire, we’ve been tracking assistance for 53 different families, including some elderly and persons with disabilities,” Downey said.

PCIRC was established as a private, nonprofit grassroots organization in 1983, originally as a rape-crisis service, and has expanded its services significantly since then.

PCIRC currently operates four community wellness centers in Chester, Greenville, Portola and Quincy as well as the Sierra SAFE Program in Loyalton.

Services for the Camp Fire families have focused on helping to meet basic needs for shelter, showers and laundry facilities, access to computers, phones and the web, as well as food pantry supplies.

The center has also aided evacuees with things like hay donated to serve large animals and access to medical services. In one case, emergency dental care was provided.

As a safety net provider of countywide services, PCIRC accepts financial donations to put toward emergency housing needs at hotels and gasoline gift cards, too.

“We do so much so well because we’re a small agency where everyone wears many hats,” Downey said.

She explained that PCIRC has developed and built relationships with key local and government entities since its early days as a resource agency. Those long-term connections are essential to all that PCIRC accomplishes, according to the executive director.

For information or assistance, contact PCIRC’s main office at 283-5515 or visit any of the local wellness centers.

If you or anyone you know is affected by the Butte County Camp Fire disaster, register for help immediately by calling FEMA at (800) 621-3362 or register online at www.disasterassistance.gov.

You can also visit any PCIRC location in Plumas County.

Chester Wellness & Family Resource Center

372 Main Street

Chester, CA 96020

Phone: 259-4156

Indian Valley Wellness & Family Resource Center

414 Main Street

Greenville, CA 95947

Phone: 284-1560

Portola Family Resource Center

165 Ridge Street

Portola, CA 96122

Phone: 832-1827

Quincy Wellness Family Resource Center

591 West Main Street

Quincy, CA 95971

Phone: 283-5515

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