OREGON — A Mid-South volunteer aids with the Oregon wildfire.
Before he even touched down in Oregon Saturday, American Red Cross volunteer Ron Wiggins could see the impact of the wildfires that have swept through the west.
“I flew into Portland,” Wiggins said. “We were flying through clear skies and we got to Idaho it got hazy and brown.”
On the ground, the reality is worse.
"People we’ve seen had to pick up everything and evacuate on very short notice. Things they left behind they’re worried about,' Wiggins said. “Others had more notice and are right there don’t know if their house is still there or not. But they can’t go back until it’s cleared.”
Wiggins is based in Grants Pass, located on the south end of the state. This area isn’t in the direct line of the fire.
He said the air quality is bad everywhere, especially for those with respiratory issues.
Those folks are being put up in hotels.
Aside from managing a shelter, Wiggins has also delivered meals to the hotels.
Wiggins helped with relief efforts for hurricanes, floods and tornadoes. This is his first wildfire experience.
He said Hurricane Florence in South Carolina was big but his experience in Oregon is right up there.
“The people I’m running into here have a wider array of problems and stories when they get here,” he said. “Like I was saying, either the rapid evacuation and their house is gone. Rapid evacuation and they don’t know what’s going on.”
Wiggins has been a Red Cross volunteer for almost a decade. These moments remind why he is a volunteer.
“I’ve been very fortunate,” he said. “Stuff like this hasn’t happened to me or my family. Being able to touch people when they’re experiencing the worst, it makes a difference.”
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