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Red Cross’ help is necessary but something’s missing

Supervisor Sherrie Thrall came out verbally swinging and it was the American Red Cross that received the black eye.

Thrall closed her regular comment period at the Nov. 13 Plumas County Board of Supervisors’ meeting with her recent experiences with the organization right in her hometown.

Thrall was expressing her dissatisfaction with some representatives of the Red Cross and how they handled the establishing and prompt closing of an evacuation effort in Chester.

When Chester officials received word a shelter was needed for people escaping from the Paradise area Camp Fire, people in the Chester area rolled up their sleeves and went to work.

Thrall said they opened the Memorial Hall and made it ready to receive people in need.

One resident became one of the chief local organizers and Thrall couldn’t say enough positive things about her efforts as well as those of every one else who volunteered.

Much was already in the works when two Red Cross representatives finally arrived, Thrall explained. Both admitted they had no experience in running a shelter, which concerned Thrall.

And then the rules and regulations started coming out. One that really bothered Thrall was that pets weren’t allowed in the shelter. While Thrall said she understood that pet allergies could be a concern, she was concerned for those who would not have come if they couldn’t bring their pets.

So Thrall arranged that the recreation center be opened for those with pets. They could sleep there with their animals and visit them and eat with the others in the Memorial Hall.

Local restaurants were geared up to feed the 30 to 40 people who needed Chester’s help.

And then suddenly Thrall said she learned that representatives of the Red Cross were closing the doors. “It’s beyond me — absolutely beyond me,” Thrall said about the decision. No one approached her to discuss the situation. No one included her in the decision. And no one ever explained why they were making the decision to suddenly close down and move everyone to the Plumas-Sierra County Fairgrounds in Quincy. “Everything was set up and boom, off they go,” she told other supervisors and the small audience.

No one explained the decision to Plumas County Sheriff Greg Hagwood as head of the area’s Office of Emergency Services, Thrall said.

Thrall said she took a lot on herself in opening the center. The liability factor to the county was something to consider but she determined it was an emergency.

As head of Office of Emergency Services, Hagwood had implemented emergency services so groups could go ahead and meet the demand for shelter for people escaping the Camp Fire.

Based on how Red Cross representatives behaved in Chester and the decisions they made without including locals, Thrall said that they are pretty low on her priority list.

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