Volunteers sent to help with wildfire relief

Indiana News

EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WEHT)– There’s a shortage of volunteers to help as fires ravage the West Coast. Some people from the Tri-State and beyond are filling that need including an 84-year-old woman.

“Many of the volunteers that we are needing are to help working in the sheltering area. We are sheltering people both in hotels and in congregant sheltering which is where Fran will be helping,” said Theo Boots, Executive Director of Southwest Indiana branch of the Indiana Red Cross.

“Last I helped save somebody’s life when I was there so I guess I was in the right place,” said Fran Matheny. She has deployed several times through the American Red Cross helping those hit the hardest by disasters. “My birthday is sunday and I’m going to be 85 if I can do it, somebody else should be able to.”

She’s headed to Sacramento, California, serving as a beacon of hope. Matheny will be working at shelters helping people cope with the devastation.

“Most of those people have lost everything. They have to start all over,” Matheny explained. She said even though the low humidity and gusting winds are fanning the flames throughout California, Oregon, and Washington she’s not fearful of her safety and health.”If God wants me to do this, he will take care of me. Mattew 25 says when we are born, our days are already numbered and I can’t change who I am.”

The Hoosier National Forest has deployed 12 workers out West, helping to defend neighborhoods from the flames. Shawn Woodbury, one of their workers says the claremont fires in quincy, california were hard to catch.

“If we can’t catch it, what we try to do is point protection and try to steer a fire around structures and send it somewhere different,” said Woodbury, Engine Captain at the Hoosier National Forest. He took videos while working on a strategy to spare as many homes as possible from the flames.

Woodbury is getting ready to head back west as he waits for one of their crews to get back from Oregon.

Matheny will be returning to the Tri-State in two weeks.

The American Red Cross has a shortage of volunteers. You can sign up to help here.

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(This story was originally published on Sept. 14, 2020)

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