Red Cross gives temporary shelter to displaced SH residents

Staff Writer

During the heavy rains two weeks ago, a small group of Signal Hill residents had to temporarily abandon their apartments. Fortunately for them, the local chapter of the Red Cross was able to give them a warm, dry place to stay while crews drained and dried their homes.
It happened on the night of Jan. 24, when the Los Angeles County Fire Department requested the Greater Long Beach Chapter of the American Red Cross to shelter the residents of the ground floor units of an apartment building at 2300 Lewis Avenue in Signal Hill.
“That’s how we are usually activated,” said Chris Campbell-Jay, local Red Cross response service specialist. “We have a 24-hour number which the fire department or police department uses to contact us during an emergency.”
She explained that upon receiving the call, the Red Cross sent some of its people to the apartments to assess the situation. “We determined that it was indeed a disaster and not just a maintenance issue.”
The flooding took place when a heavy downpour overwhelmed a storm drain, which backed up covering the apartment floors with about 10 inches of water. Although no one was injured, the apartments had to be evacuated.
“We checked to see how many people needed a place to stay and set up a shelter at Earnest McBride Center at Martin Luther King Jr. Park at 1920 Lemon Avenue,” Campbell-Jay noted.
She explained that in such cases, residents with cars are asked to drive themselves to the shelter while others are transported on city buses through an agreement Red Cross has with the city transit company.
The shelter provided cots, blankets and food to about 10 people as well as three meals a day. “We kept it open Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights but no one needed to stay there on Saturday night,” Campbell-Jay said.
She added that because the flooding was not a life-threatening situation, the residents had ample time to gather their own necessary supplies including their medications.“But in a run-for-your-life situation, people do not have the time to do that,” she said. “We tell people to always be prepared so that in the event of an emergency they can quickly and easily take necessary items with them.”
Supplies people may need to take with them include prescription medications and emergency medical supplies; foods that meet unusual dietary requirements; identification and important personal documents; extra clothing; pillows; blankets; hygiene supplies and other comfort items; supplies needed for children and infants, such as diapers, formula and toys as well as special items for family members who are elderly or disabled.
“It’s a good idea to put the things you will need in something portable that you can grab while you’re running out the door,” Campbell-Jay stressed.
She added that public health regulations do not permit pets in shelters, but trained assistance animals are permitted.
While major catastrophes, like the recent wildfires in Southern California, draw much media attention to Red Cross services, the organization actually does most of its work in smaller disasters, such as the recent flooding in Signal Hill.
For more information, phone (562) 490-4016 or visit

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