The next week could be a lonely one for Rita Guzzard of Ventura. But it will be for a good cause.
Guzzard's husband, Richard, has been sent to Northern California as part of a Red Cross disaster relief team to assist the more than 17,000 people driven from their homes due to flooding from three winter storms.
"He's looking forward to it," said Guzzard, a counselor at the California Youth Authority's Ventura School in Camarillo. She and her husband, a retired associate warden with the California Department of Corrections, joined the Red Cross about nine months ago.
"We joined so that we could help out the community in times of crisis," Guzzard said.
Red Cross Emergency Services Director Richard Rink said Richard Guzzard will lead a three-person team that will provide hot meals to some of the 13 shelters set up in the Central Valley-Sacramento area. The meals are prepared in field kitchens and loaded hundreds at a time onto emergency response vehicles for delivery.
Those vehicles are "set up to keep meals hot for a period of time and take them to where they're needed. They serve the meals right out of the window with a hot cup of coffee," Rink said. All five of the vehicles in Southern California have been called up for duty.
The Red Cross assists with emergency response immediately after a disaster. "That means food, shelter, the things people need right away as they evacuate their homes," Rink said.
Then comes the long-term help.
"The next big wave will be family services people. They assist people to transition from the shelters back to a normal way of life," Rink said.
"There is a good possibility nurses and family services people from Ventura County will go in the next two or three days."