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Our Opinion: Meeting a need

July 24, 2001

This summer the local chapter of the American Red Cross has been busy, as fires have affected more than one Imperial Valley family.

We credit the Red Cross, under its new director, Syliva Preciado, for its efforts. While the services may have been there previously, Preciado is working hard to make sure the public knows the Red Cross will be there in times of need.

Recently there was a fire in rural El Centro in which a family of four lost everything. Preciado and a member of her staff were on scene quickly to provide water and electrolyte-filled drinks to both the firefighters working hard to put out the blaze and the family standing by watching the home go up in flames. Preciado sat with the family and offered to find temporary housing and provide shoes, clothing and food.

When you lose everything you own in a fire, it must be an overwhelming feeling and a family can be left wondering where to turn. Knowing immediately that the Red Cross is going to be on scene to offer aid is comforting. Knowing that the Red Cross has the ability to offer shelter, food and other necessities is more than comforting. What it means is people have a place to turn in what could be their darkest hour.

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We urge local fire departments to make use of the Red Cross and to call the Red Cross to the scene of a fire when a family or even an individual has been affected. We are fortunate to have an active Red Cross and a leader of the local chapter who knows and cares about the community.

We also urge the Imperial Valley community to lend a hand to the Red Cross. Preciado said she already has been in contact with local motels to provide housing when needed and we are sure community members have come forward to help in other ways. Still, an agency such as the Red Cross can always use more support from the community.

People should know when the worst does happen, they are not alone. They should know there are people who will be there to provide the support they need long after the smoke has cleared. We have that in the Imperial Valley.

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