Thursday Oct 08 2009
The 49 Fire fully involves resources of Salvation Army
By: E. Ken Tokutomi Chairman, Salvation Army Advisory Board, Auburn
Sunday afternoon, the day of the 49 Fire, I was awakened from a nap by a call from Placer County’s automated emergency warning system. I turned on my TV to witness a rapidly traveling fire, which consumed homes and businesses with overwhelming speed. I am the chairman of The Salvation Army Advisory Board of Auburn. As a member of its disaster relief team, I was available to help on this fire. I got a call Sunday night, so I picked up fellow advisory board member Angela Atteberry around 11 at night and drove to Bell and Highway 49. The police officers at the road block recognized the Red Shields and allowed us to proceed through the roadblock. We met Robert Fish and Michelle Talbott at The Army’s canteen located at the side of Highway 49 just before Quartz Drive. During that hectic first day, The Army provided drinks, snacks and meals to the emergency personnel and others. We estimated feeding over 400 meals during the early hours of this disaster. Around midnight we moved our canteen to the new Incident Command Center at 84 Lumber. We watched as fire, law enforcement and medical services personnel waited to respond to the newest emergency. During the early morning hours, we were blessed as it was relatively calm. In Auburn, we have very professional organizations that worked hard in unison to quell the fire storm, and save so many structures. I drove Angela home at around 6 Monday morning, sadly passing the burned-out shell that was the old Harley Davidson business, as the owners Emma and Carlo Lujan are friends of mine. During this stressful time our local news agencies, the Auburn Journal and KAHI radio, were beacons of information. During the new work week, I was asked to become a member of the Community 1st Bank Disaster Relief Fund committee. The task of this committee and The Army is to expend our limited resources, partner with all the players, and coordinate efforts to do the most good under these extremely difficult economic times. With our community’s support, these survivors will be blessed with the generosity that is Auburn. How do we direct these precious resources? Let’s look at how The Salvation Army is dealing with this disaster. We have assessed over 40 families taking information to provide for aid during their road to recovery. We are partnering with various governmental agencies, the faith-based community, businesses and the generous citizens of the foothills. We have given the survivors over 500 boxes of food this month. We have helped house families, given out thousands of dollars of vouchers for clothes and personal hygiene products, and have furnished many temporary homes to help get them started. These are a few of the many tasks The Army has undertaken to help. We will continue to provide free services to the survivors. We will be dealing with this disaster for years to come. The mission of The Army is to help people get back on their feet, physically, economically, emotionally and if they request, spiritually. We realize that the road to recovery will be a long and arduous journey. The Army will be here and will continue to service those less fortunate and continue to do the Lord’s work. For further information, go to the Auburn Salvation Army Web site at www.auburnsalarmy.com or call the Corp at (530) 889-3990. E. Ken Tokutomi is chairman of the Salvation Army Advisory Board of Auburn.