Among the volunteers helping the thousands of California residents who are fleeing wildfires devouring parts of the state are members of the Turlock Salvation Army Disaster Relief Team.
The small, yet dedicated disaster relief team has been serving meals at fire evacuation centers and offering spiritual support.
Team founder Megan Patterson and her husband Nick just returned from a five-day stint helping evacuees of fires raging in Lake and Mendocino counties.
“It’s a gift to give to those in need,” said Megan Patterson.
Megan and Nick Patterson, along with Bob Bradley of Modesto, served meals at the Middletown Evacuation Center. Megan said they worked 15-hour days.
“It’s a lot of work and very humbling,” she said.
It’s a gift to give to those in need.Megan Patterson
The Turlock team had professional help for three days last week as celebrity chef Guy Fieri prepared meals for thousands of the evacuees.
“He was a true blessing to all of us,” said Patterson.
The Salvation Army as a whole has provided 17,000 meals to evacuees and first responders of the Carr Fire since July 27 and more than 11,000 meals over the past week to those affected by the Mendocino Complex Fire.
While the Pattersons and Bradley were returning home for break in volunteering before heading back into the fire zone, Turlock Corps’ newest arrival, Lt. Sharayah Graciani, is helping evacuees of the Carr Fire in Shasta and Trinity counties.
“They’re getting a lot of experience,” said Major Debi Shrum of the Turlock Salvation Army Corps.
Shrum said the team was formed because the Salvation Army saw a need for more on the ground disaster relief.
The Turlock team’s first experience in disaster relief was closer to home when the Red Cross opened a food evacuation shelter at the Stanislaus County Fairgrounds in February 2017. The Salvation Army helped out by providing lunch and dinner each day for those at the shelter.
The team also provided meals to evacuees and first responders of the Ferguson Fire in Mariposa County in July.
For more information about the Turlock Salvation Army Corps Disaster Relief Team, call 209-667-6091.