SVdP-USA Disaster Services Corporation (DSC) has deployed a Rapid Response Team this week to respond to the wildfires that are aggressively spreading across New Mexico. The fires have burned more than 468 square miles over the last 42 days to earn the distinction of being the largest fire in the arid state’s recorded history. It’s also the largest fire currently burning in the U.S.
Gov. Michelle Grisham estimates that at least 1,500 homes have been destroyed. Residents are staying in mass care shelters, hotels, vehicles, and others have been evacuated to northern New Mexico. There are currently three towns on alert who may have to vacate their homes at any given moment.
DSC’s Rapid Response Team is meeting with local Vincentians to train volunteers, document their needs, assess damage, pre-plan DSC’s Parish Recovery Assistance Center (PRAC) deployment, introduce Vincentian leadership to other nonprofits they can work in partnership with, and share best practices in how to handle a disaster while it is still affecting their community.
DSC has been in contact with our collaborating partners, FEMA, Red Cross, Salvation Army, New Mexico VOAD, Catholic Charities, and local government in New Mexico.
One resident described her horrendous experience of putting her three children and pets into her car and just driving for their lives, sleeping in different hotel parking lots, and doing anything they can to survive. Another resident described that he lost his small herd of animals that he depended on for his income and will now likely fall into situational poverty. Lastly, one elderly couple who ended up in a shelter stated, “We need your help, my town is destroyed.”
DSC will be working with SVdP Councils and Conferences in addressing current needs and long-term recovery. Seasoned DSC volunteer and Vincentian, Cathy Garcia, met with one local Vincentian who was actively contacting people who need assistance, as they were packing up their car to evacuate.
How can you help? Please visit the DSC website at www.svdpdisaster.org to support our efforts and prevent more families from falling into situational poverty. DSC will be posting the needs of this community and ways you can help on our website and social media this upcoming week.