SAN DIEGO – The Red Cross Southern California Region is sending its CEO to Maui to aid in massive relief efforts underway following devastating wildfires.

“It is going to take weeks and months to respond to something this large,” Sean Mahoney said.

Mahoney is not only CEO of the Red Cross Southern California region, but he is also a San Diego resident. Mahoney has been with the Red Cross for almost six years and dedicated his time and skills to several major relief efforts around the country like the Paradise Fire in 2018.

He joins a total of 20 Red Cross volunteers from across California and countless more from around the country, all heading to Maui after wildfires swept through the western community of Lahaina.

“The Red Cross responders respond by themselves. They might have a skillset, they might be a shelter manager, or a feeding manager, or a government ops supervisor. They will get a one-way ticket. They’ll bring a sleeping bag and some clothes and they go,” Mahoney said.

The death toll on Maui has climbed to more than 50 and officials estimate thousands will need housing.

“I’m going to jump in and help coordinate the response. I’ll be working with the regional CEO, my counterpart in Hawaii, to assist her in the response,” Mahoney said.

The Red Cross has a number of ways to donate and help in the relief effort, listed on its website.

Red Cross volunteers work 12-hour shifts or longer helping to provide shelter, three meals a day and assistance that goes beyond supplies.

“Something like this can be very stressful for people and children so we have disaster health, workers, disaster mental health and disaster spiritual care,” Mahoney said.