Grand Island Red Cross volunteer helping with relief efforts during California wildfires

VENTURA, C.A. (WIVB) — Many American Red Cross volunteers will be helping through the holidays with relief efforts in southern California. One Western New Yorker is spending the next two weeks there to help those affected by the wildfires.

“It looks like somebody dropped a bomb on the place,” said Eric Sharpe, Red Cross volunteer from Grand Island.

Hundreds of homes torched and several neighborhoods are now destroyed after several wildfires ripped through Southern California. Eric Sharpe has seen firsthand the destruction of the California wildfires.

“It’s not a like a house fire, a single house fire where there’s still a frame standing or you know a wall here and there,” said Sharpe.

He says there’s little but ash and charred cars left behind.

“The only thing that’s really left is probably if someone has a brick fireplace you tend to see just the brick fireplace standing,” said Sharpe.

Sharpe, who’s from Grand Island, has been volunteering with the American Red Cross for three years. He says he’ll spend at least the next two weeks in southern California. He’s currently volunteering as a network manager where he helps people communicate with their loved ones to let them know they’re safe.

“That’s a very important part of stress relief for these people who’ve lost everything who don’t have, you know they’ve lost their phone and they don’t have the access to reach out to their family members,” said Sharpe.

He says hundreds of volunteers plan to help with relief efforts through the rest of the year.

“There’s a lot of people here that will be here that will be here through the holidays. Unfortunately, this happened at a pretty terrible time for these people,” said Sharpe.

Just weeks before Christmas, now nearly 600 people are spending their nights in Red Cross and community shelters. But despite losing everything, Sharpe says many people are keeping a good spirit.

“They’re still you know in good spirits and you know they’re still glad that they have the support that they’re getting,” said Sharpe.

Sharpe says the best way people can help is to donate to the Red Cross. Those donations will help provide food and relief packages to those affected by the wildfires. People can donate by visiting redcross.org, call 1-800 red cross or text the word redcross to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

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