SAN DIEGO – Sixteen local volunteers are heading north to help feed and care for the nearly 200,000 people evacuated because from the area below the Oroville Dam.
Some of the volunteers were already on the ground in Northern California. Others planned to fly north. But two volunteers left Kearny Mesa Tuesday morning in a Red Cross emergency response vehicle which they are driving to the Oroville area.
Authorities are scrambling to reduce Lake Oroville's level by 50 feet and repair damages to a critical flood control measure ahead of a storm expected later this week. Meanwhile, mandatory evacuation orders remained in place for Butte, Sutter and Yuba counties Tuesday.
The volunteers from San Diego have plenty of experience dealing with large-scale evacuations. They have been sent to help with hurricanes in the Southeast and wildfires in the West. Tuesday morning, Ron Clagett and his partner were loading up their van in Kearny Mesa for the long drive north.
"We will be leaving in a few minutes to drive to Northern California to help assist in the recovery and to help the people in need that have been affected by this disaster," Clagett told FOX 5. "We are a mobile feeding unit, which is what our job is going to be. And so food is already up there. We go load up the truck and go to areas of food poverty or go to shelters -- wherever people are sheltered and hunkered down until the evacuation is lifted."
Officials with the San Diego chapter of the Red Cross said that about 44,000 people were currently being housed and fed in Red Cross shelters in the Oroville area. The Red Cross supplies medical and mental health care for the evacuees in addition to food and shelter. It's a costly operation, and the organization is soliciting donations to help pay for the effort at redcross.org.