Office of the President

July 31, 2018 – Wildfire support and preparedness

To: Campus Community

From: President Gayle E. Hutchinson

Dear Campus Community,

As the devastation of the North State wildfires continues to grow, many want to know how they can help and how the University is supporting emergency relief efforts in Shasta, Trinity, Mendocino, and Lake Counties. It’s also a good opportunity to share our policies and resources to help you prepare to respond in your own home and to help others, if you so wish. We commend the campus for its caring spirit and thank you for all you have done and continue to do. 

What can you do to help others?
It is great that people want to help during disasters. However, managing volunteers and physical donations can often put a strain on rescue and relief efforts. Disaster aid groups say cash is best, because it can be spent on what disaster victims need at the moment they need it. A good resource is today’s Sacramento Bee story that compiled a list of agencies providing financial support. Additionally, those interested in volunteering during emergencies are encouraged to get involved before an incident happens so you can be ready to respond. The Red Cross and North Valley Animal Disaster Group provide training to help you become qualified to volunteer during a disaster. 

How is the University helping? 
As a campus, we stand ready to meet any requests from disaster officials and follow a structured response based on the National Incident Management System. We will be activated only at the request of the incident commander to assure the response is organized, scaled appropriately, and best meets needs. University police officers are in Redding to assist with evacuations and enforcement, and the School of Nursing has offered its services to Shasta County Public Health and is standing by. Additionally, Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) has confirmed shelter information with the Red Cross and Disaster Services Bureau (Cal OES), should the University receive a request to serve as an evacuation center. 

How is the University supporting impacted students, faculty, and staff?
We know a number of our campus community members have been affected in one way or another. Some were evacuated and cannot yet return home, while a few lost their homes and all of their belongings. Others are helping family members and close friends in the fire zone manage the many logistics that are necessary for a full recovery to everyday living. If you are one of those affected, our hearts go out to you as we wish you, your friends, and your families much patience and perseverance in the coming days and weeks. Human Resources will work with faculty and staff on a case-by-case basis to support them with their needs. Student Affairs is proactively reaching out to students in the impacted areas to see what assistance they need and how the University can help now and when they return to campus. Resources immediately available include: 

  • Counseling and Wellness Center
  • The Basic Needs Project (food and housing assistance, emergency loans and grants)
  • The CARE Team 

What emergency plans does the University have in place?
The University has an Emergency Operations Plan that is designed to allow our Emergency Operations Center to support field operations here on campus, as well as requests received from city and county Emergency Operations Centers and the Red Cross. We also have an Emergency Response Guide and other important information for the campus community to reference in the event an incident affects the University. We know the region’s air quality has been impacted by smoke from the fires, and Environmental Health and Safety will continue to monitor conditions and advise the campus when necessary.

What can you do to protect yourself?
First, know that regardless of where you live, disasters can happen anywhere, anytime. Everyone needs to be ready. National experts suggest that you have enough supplies to take care of yourself for 72 hours. The Federal Emergency Management Agency recommends you make a kit and have a plan—including knowing what to grab if you have to evacuate in a matter of minutes. There are some easy and inexpensive tips that you can review at the website and from Cal Fire’s Prepare for Wildfire website. Above all, in the event of an evacuation order or warning in any type of emergency, follow the six “P's”:

  1. People and pets
  2. Papers, phone numbers, and important documents
  3. Prescriptions, vitamins, and eyeglasses 
  4. Pictures and irreplaceable memorabilia
  5. Personal computers (information on hard drive)
  6. “Plastic” (credit/ATM cards) and cash

As we’ve done before when catastrophes have occurred, we will pull together as a community and provide each other support. The outpouring of compassion you have already demonstrated to each other and for those across the North State is a hallmark of our University and Wildcat community.