Red Cross Closes Evacuation Center, Responds to Resident's Concerns

Red Cross Closes Evacuation Center, Responds to Resident's Concerns title=
Red Cross Closes Evacuation Center, Responds to Resident's Concerns
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Update by edhat staff
11:30 a.m., January 18, 2018

The American Red Cross of the Pacific Coast is explaining why the evacuation center for Montecito mudslide victims was shut down early Thursday morning.

According to spokesperson Jessica Piffero, the decision to close the evacuation center at San Marcos High School was determined by multiple community organizations. "It's normal, these centers are meant to be temporary, short-term, and it's natural to transition to recovery," said Piffero. 

She explained that every person inside the shelter was aware of this transition, although they did not have an exact date and time of the transition until Wednesday, each person met with caseworkers to determine an individualized recovery plan, which is customized to determine that specific person's needs. 

"I understand the community is in a difficult place, we've been through a lot, and the Red Cross has the absolute best interest of the community," said Piffero. "We would never throw anyone on the street, we've provided all the necessary resources. It's best not to jump to conclusions."

When edhat asked if there was a specific incident regarding the closure of the center and possible disturbances by transients, Piffero stated she can't speak to specifics because of safety reasons and client confidentiality. "It's typical to see 'pre-disaster homeless' in situations like this, but disasters do not discriminate," said Piffero emphasizing that anyone who comes to the Red Cross will be served and helped.

Edhat readers have questioned the physical donations of clothing, food, supplies made to the Red Cross being taken to thrift stores to be sold for a profit. When asked about this Piffero explained that the local Red Cross does not have the resources to individually sort, clean, and distribute these types of items. Instead, they've partnered with other community organizations to aid in this process. Red Cross has joined with Alpha Thrift Store who will process specific items and will issue vouchers back to the Red Cross that can be given to victims who are able to access these items.

The Red Cross thanks everyone for their donations and urges people to continue donating items to the local Foodbank, Unity Shoppe, and Salvation Army as those items will reach those who are displaced.

By an edhat reader
7:41 a.m., January 18, 2018

At 6:00 a.m. Thursday, the Red Cross surreptitiously kicked out all of their evacuees without a cause or a reason at San Marcos High School.

There have been rumors about some type of disturbance caused by a transient, but that hasn't been confirmed by the Red Cross as they're not giving an explanation. A Sheriff's Deputy was on the scene the morning assisting with kicking out the evacuees.

During KEYT's live morning interview, they were on the scene and a woman who worked for the Red Cross said that "you choose to be homeless."  What is the real story? What's up Red Cross? We need answers.

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SBPaul Jan 19, 2018 08:33 AM
Red Cross Closes Evacuation Center, Responds to Resident's Concerns

I think you do but I will explain that... They don't discriminate. Initially their job is to take on the flow of evacuees. During that phase they take anyone who claims a need. As things settle down they develop recovery plans that are relevant to the clients previous living situation. Most hurricanes have this same issue but its much more proportionate to the home owning population. Our city has made a decision over the years to create support structures that provide services for a homeless population that is way out of balance with the homed. So when something like this happens you get 8 legit people and 24 people not so much. In houston or New Orleans its not very nice to hang outside when it rains 180 days out of the year so they don't have the same cocktail we have. Its seems crazy and that is exactly why they are getting people hotel rooms so they can have some sense of privacy and stability to recovery from. Watching the crazy guy in the corner take a dump or wackos storming through a high school demanding their right to smoke is not a good situation for legitimate people in need to recover from... If they started out by providing shelter for only the needy they would be exposing themselves to a litany of legal issues. Better to establish need than to attempt to filter people by your initial assessment.

yin yang Jan 18, 2018 06:49 PM
Red Cross Closes Evacuation Center, Responds to Resident's Concerns

My main question has been: Why did Red Cross shelter leave SBCC when their Spring semester didn't begin until January 22?!!

SM winter break ended Jan. 2. Seems SBCC should be brought into this conversation. I haven't fully trusted Red Cross since their monetary public crisis.

SBPaul Jan 18, 2018 05:57 PM
Red Cross Closes Evacuation Center, Responds to Resident's Concerns

Would be good to get more detail from that. Sounds bad the way you describe. Things I would like to know are if they got a discounted rate and if they are gainfully employed. Most charities try to provide based on actual need. Usually that ends up being people in the middle that are pretty self sufficient but have had some significant set back and need some structure to get them back up. I don't assume anything but I can't see the red cross partnering with Hilton for their next disaster retreat.

Roger Jan 18, 2018 05:51 PM
Red Cross Closes Evacuation Center, Responds to Resident's Concerns

I just heard a story about a guy in Ventura who lost part of his home so he went to the Red Cross for help they got him and his family a motel room but he had to cut them a sizable check and then some for the help....The guy that told me this one of my best friends believe it or not a Marine and a republican the only one I trust. I believe that story it's puts all this other stuff in perspective for me UI usually only donate to women's shelters, and veterans anyway.

SBsurferlife Jan 18, 2018 11:53 AM
Red Cross Closes Evacuation Center, Responds to Resident's Concerns

So, if everyone was alerted ahead of time, according to the Red Cross spokesperson, why were people kicked out at 6am? Why was that elderly guy leaving in PJs? If this was decided yesterday, why the sudden early morning boot? Something is not adding up.

SBPaul Jan 18, 2018 03:29 PM
Red Cross Closes Evacuation Center, Responds to Resident's Concerns

I bet Mcdonalds is glad to get some of their customer base back. You can't beat free. Not even with a week long free coffee refill. Still have to buy the cup. Very bad joke. I will go ahead and down vote it so others can spare the click.

SBPaul Jan 18, 2018 01:48 PM
Red Cross Closes Evacuation Center, Responds to Resident's Concerns

They are gonna have to come up with the 2 buck chuck on their own. The people who had homes before are being given access to better accommodations than a shelter. There is no sense taking up an entire school cafeteria to house 10 legitimate evacuees. They can spend less money and provide a nicer experience by putting them in motels or other accommodations. The homeless are no worse off than they were prior to this. like I said some may have been given a free tent. Key word being FREE! Its sad that people are homeless but the red cross is not here to solve our social injustices. They are here for disaster relief.

Roger Jan 18, 2018 01:40 PM
Red Cross Closes Evacuation Center, Responds to Resident's Concerns

Oh gee that's wonderful they lost their home all their belongings their families...But HELL THEY GOT A TENT AND A BACK PACK OUT OF IT WITH TOOTHPASTE AND A BRUSH INSIDE THAT'S FRIGGEN WONDERFUL! Maybe they could add a bottle of 2 buck chuck for their first night camping on the East Beach!

SBPaul Jan 18, 2018 01:32 PM
Red Cross Closes Evacuation Center, Responds to Resident's Concerns

Well sounds like they got a free tent out of the deal. For some that may actually be an upgrade to their previous situation. There is a pretty good interview with Mrs. Coley from Red Cross on Noozbird. Ms Coley stated that about two thirds of the shelter population was pre disaster homeless. They are providing more comfortable accommodations for the people who are actually in need and directing the pre disaster homeless to the local resources we have for them. And They get a new backpack filled with snacks and a tube tent. I just spent 800 last year on a nice backpacking setup and a tent. I wish I would have known you could get one for free!

Roger Jan 18, 2018 12:32 PM
Red Cross Closes Evacuation Center, Responds to Resident's Concerns

I agree it's weird because I remember waaaaay back when the Painted Cave fire happened I worked in one of the motels people were put up in and they were there for a lot longer than a week...Too weird not nice unless they were put up in motels like before.

SBPaul Jan 18, 2018 12:16 PM
Red Cross Closes Evacuation Center, Responds to Resident's Concerns

What time does school start? They had homeless people disturbing the peace at a school which is mean to be there for children to learn. They worked with people to make recovery plans. Some people's recovery is simply going back to the life they lived before be it on the streets or back to their homes. Some have much more complicated situations that the red cross and others are there to assist with. What is hard to understand about school being disrupted and the decision being made to do individual recovery plans instead of providing free meals and a place to sleep for anyone who can make it to the corner of hollister and turnpike?

SBPaul Jan 18, 2018 11:31 AM
Red Cross Closes Evacuation Center, Responds to Resident's Concerns

Just watched KEYT. More rumors but it sounds like one of the "clients" who some speculate is a transient was outraged for supposedly being told he cannot smoke a the school decided to storm through the school and disturbed a class in session. If you had kids going to school at SM you could probably understand why this is an issue. Considering the red cross's position this story makes sense. They don't want to comment because technically they have to protect the privacy of their residents. It doesn't matter what the person wanted to smoke he was at a school. I don't think the red cross is throwing anyone out. There are services for people who need help the Red cross are unfortunately dealing with the whole if you build it they will come scenario and I am not talking about the 1919 White Sox.

Frederick Jan 18, 2018 11:11 AM
Red Cross Closes Evacuation Center, Responds to Resident's Concerns

The only people the Red Cross should be providing assistance too are those who through no fault of there own are without shelter and food. They should not be expected to provide shelter and food to free loaders (homeless) taking advantage of this horrible disaster.

SBPaul Jan 18, 2018 08:36 AM
Red Cross Closes Evacuation Center, Responds to Resident's Concerns

They had 32 people in the shelter last night. Lets say on average they pair... So with at the most 16 hotel rooms needed and kids needed to go back to school they re probably just going to help people individually. Perhaps hotels perhaps alternative housing. Living in a shelter long term is nothing to look forward to. The assertion they are pulling the rug out from under people is a pretty big leap seeing as its not yet 9 am and its sunny and nice weather currently. If it starts to rain tonight and we see old ladies and kids on the street then there are less than 32 of them and I think we can complain later and just help out. I don't see that happening but if so think about what you can do and less about the demands you have on other and you will probably be more satisfied in life.

CoastWatch Jan 18, 2018 08:23 AM
Red Cross Closes Evacuation Center, Responds to Resident's Concerns

So here's the deal-i-o... The coalition of Santa Barbara Homeless, (NOT Montecito "displaced") are the primary recipients of everyone's good -natured "help thy neighbor" benefits.... They are opportunists that will, unfortunately get a lot of the donated funds, food and shelter that people think will be directed to the Montecito "displaced"...
Homeless Inc. is making out like bandits during this time of disaster.

SBPaul Jan 18, 2018 08:12 AM
Red Cross Closes Evacuation Center, Responds to Resident's Concerns

Red Cross told KEYT they re providing individual recovery plans. They are likely just trying to help those who are actually affected. The man in the pajamas looks bad for sure. I am hopeful they have a recovery plan for him. This was due to an incident yesterday that the red cross stated made either the staff or some of the clients feel unsafe (sheriffs were called out multiple times). Very sad that our troubles balancing providing services for transients over the years has now likely resulted in our community being unable to openly provide services for disaster victims. Its not the red cross's job to police who needs assistance and when they re put in a situation like it sounds like they were they are likely just trying to put structure in this so its not a free for all bring your pot stash and hang out scene. Very sad and I am hopeful they will be able to provide services for those who need it.

SBsurferlife Jan 18, 2018 08:01 AM
Red Cross Closes Evacuation Center, Responds to Resident's Concerns

Wow, can't believe these comments. People lost their homes, loved ones, everything... they're promised a place to go with the Red Cross, then at 6am told to leave. Did anyone see the report this morning of an elderly man with a walker in his pajamas? This is outrageous.

SBPaul Jan 18, 2018 07:55 AM
Red Cross Closes Evacuation Center, Responds to Resident's Concerns

There was a rumor that this was due to "Clients" demanding the right to smoke pot at the shelter which happens to be a school. I am going to take stab and say that they are going to assist people individually because legally they don't want to touch the whole marijuana legalization thing or lets say at the very least medical marijuana needs accommodation seeing as they re a nationally run charity. I kinda doubt someone truly seeking shelter would raise a fuss about being able to use pot at a shelter... Just go take a walk on the bike trail to more mesa. Sounds like transients that have nothing to loose but I am sure we will get someone with first hand on here upset by this.

SBPaul Jan 18, 2018 09:48 AM
Red Cross Closes Evacuation Center, Responds to Resident's Concerns

What agenda are you talking about... (as I pack a nice bowl of Sativa in the comfort of my home)? This was stated as a rumor and you can watch KEYT and the lady who drove up from carp who stated that is what she was told by clients where were there yesterday. So I have no idea where you get off saying there is no way. Not everyone that smokes pot is respectful about it. I would say a majority are but that does not make it impossible for people to be disrespectful at a shelter and create a need to separate out the good from the bad. If it was feces they would have dealt with it at the time not just have everyone hang out till 6 and shuffle them out. You can attack KEYT and the poor lady at the shelter if you wanna start barking form proof. I never said I had any... Just conveying "rumor" that seem to have stirred you up.

SBPaul Jan 18, 2018 08:28 AM
Red Cross Closes Evacuation Center, Responds to Resident's Concerns

It becomes discriminatory... They are a massive nationally run charity. If they are taken to court it would likely be federal and who knows if this was "medical" or not. Rather than open millions on attorneys fighting the ACLU or whatever attorney wanted to pick this up... Its cheaper to put individuals up in hotels once their needs are vetted. I am speculating and it may have nothing to do with pot. Someone stated something about feces not in the bathroom... If that were the case I would think they would have evacuated the shelter immediately not a prescribed time. Smoking on school grounds is not permitted. They don't have a right to smoke in a drug and gun free zone.

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