The Orion

Red Cross Camp Fire shelter to close Jan. 31

Cindy+Huge+is+a+Red+Cross+volunteer+who+has+worked+at+24+national+emergency+shelters.++She+is+currently+stationed+in+Chico+as+part+of+public+affairs+for+the+Camp+Fire+shelter.+Photo+credit%3A+Melissa+Herrera
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Red Cross Camp Fire shelter to close Jan. 31

Cindy Huge is a Red Cross volunteer who has worked at 24 national emergency shelters.  She is currently stationed in Chico as part of public affairs for the Camp Fire shelter. Photo credit: Melissa Herrera

Cindy Huge is a Red Cross volunteer who has worked at 24 national emergency shelters. She is currently stationed in Chico as part of public affairs for the Camp Fire shelter. Photo credit: Melissa Herrera

Cindy Huge is a Red Cross volunteer who has worked at 24 national emergency shelters. She is currently stationed in Chico as part of public affairs for the Camp Fire shelter. Photo credit: Melissa Herrera

Cindy Huge is a Red Cross volunteer who has worked at 24 national emergency shelters. She is currently stationed in Chico as part of public affairs for the Camp Fire shelter. Photo credit: Melissa Herrera

Kendall George and Christian Solis

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Walking into the Silver Dollar Fairgrounds in Chico looks quite different from four months ago. Once a place for carnival rides and horse racing, it has turned into a National Emergency Red Cross shelter for victims of the Camp Fire.

Since Nov. 8, this emergency shelter has been home to up to 657 victims of the fire, although only 121 remain as of Friday. However, this shelter is set to close Jan. 31 with plans to relocate its residents into permanent housing, creating their “new norm,” post-disaster.

Cindy Huge

Cindy Huge is a Red Cross volunteer who has worked at 24 national emergency shelters. She is currently stationed in Chico as part of public affairs for the Camp Fire shelter. Photo credit: Melissa Herrera

“We’re planning on everyone having somewhere to go. As we progress through this next week, people will have a recovery plan and begin to work that,” Cindy Huge said. Huge is a Red Cross volunteer who has worked in 24 other disaster relief locations and is currently part of public affairs for the Silver Dollar Fairgrounds shelter. Although some may not know where they are going to live after the shelter closes just yet, Huge seems certain of caseworker volunteers ability to help residents find other temporary or permanent housing.

“We just don’t close the doors and say, ‘you’re out,'” she said.

Huge said that although it is the goal to close the shelter on Jan. 31, if it is “absolutely necessary,” the shelter will remain open longer.

The news of the Chico shelter closing came just days before Wells Fargo announced a $3.25 million donation to Camp Fire victims, $2 million of which will go directly to relocation and housing. The other $1.25 million will go to help small businesses affected by the fire, a donation that is added to the total $40 million donated altogether by various organizations, individuals and companies.

Family dormitory

A family dormitory at the Red Cross shelter used to house dozens of families. This dormitory has since been moved to a smaller room as families continue to move out of temporary housing. Photo credit: Melissa Herrera

The shelter currently has a female, male and family dorm as well as a dining area, medical tent and animal shelter. There are also dozens of portable toilets and free laundry service available.

Washing machines

Red Cross offers residents free laundry service where volunteers will wash, dry and fold clothes for those who need it. Photo credit: Melissa Herrera

With all of this, Huge emphasizes the importance of volunteering, especially for students.

“It’s amazing. You can be anybody and volunteer as long as you pass a background check. Even if you have a class, you can volunteer for two hours—it doesn’t have to be two weeks.”

Dogs

There are 11 dogs and one cat at the Red Cross shelter in Chico. Each is owned by a resident of the shelter and is taken care of and fed by Red Cross volunteers. Photo credit: Melissa Herrera

Huge has been a volunteer for six years, made thousands of connections and enjoys her work giving back to her community she said.

“It’s the only place you can volunteer where everybody has the heart to help other people,” Huge said.

To look more into volunteering for Red Cross, you can visit its website.

Kendall George can be reached at [email protected] on or Twitter @kendallmgeorge

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Red Cross Camp Fire shelter to close Jan. 31