California first responders aid in tornado relief efforts

Amidst the devastation left behind by a tornado outbreak in the middle of the country, first responders from across the US, including California are stepping up to help. Two elite members of FEMA's Incident Support Teams in the state, one from Sacramento, and the other from Orange County, are heading to the region. 

"Those teams will come in to manage the many urban search and rescue teams that are on the way, or in some cases on the ground in certain states," said Mark Neveau, a former FEMA presidential appointee.

In his role, Neveau says he was tasked with coordinating exactly the type of rescue and recovery efforts taking place in the middle of the country right now. Neveau says the biggest challenge for those on the ground right now is coordinating the rescue effort due to the sheer size of the devastation left by the tornadoes.

"We’re only seeing the tip of the iceberg right now. As daylight comes tomorrow, and we get more drone satellite imagery we’re going to see a lot more destruction and unfortunately we’re going to have more loss of life."

Kentucky, Illinois, Tennessee, Arkansas, Missouri and Mississippi were all ravaged by the tornadoes. The American Red Cross is on the ground as well, offering support and supplies to those impacted by the tornado outbreak.

"We’re working around the clock to make sure that people have a safe shelter to go to, to make sure that they have food to eat, those critical relief supplies in hand," said Cari Dighton, regional communications director at the American Red Cross. 

A Northern California volunteer specialist is traveling to the area to provide disability support services, and Dighton says other area volunteers are on standby. The Red Cross says the need for blood donations is critical at the moment.    

"With a disaster like this it often means that blood drives are canceled in local areas where they’re no longer able to hold those blood drives, so it may have impacted the blood supply, and it’s already a critical shortage time over the holiday season," said Dighton.

The Red Cross is asking anyone in the Bay Area who is able to give blood, to consider donating. A list of donation sites is available on their website.