Red Cross vacating some Almeda Fire victims from hotels

MEDFORD, Ore. — “You don’t realize how precious a bed is until you don’t have your own,” said Andrea Cruz, an Almeda Fire victim.

Everything Andrea Cruz owns is in a Medford hotel room after her family lost everything in the Almeda Fire.

This past month, her temporary home has been at ‘Inn at the Commons.’

However, it now has an expiration date.

Cruz is one of 500 fire victims across Oregon who got the notice from the Red Cross this week.

She was told Wednesday that she had five days to move out or get in touch with the non-profit about other options.

“It’s important for the Red Cross to understand how anxious and traumatized the community is and how worried we are about the individuals who are being turned out,” said Pam Marsh, Ashland State Representative.

The news coming as a surprise to Cruz’s family and local leaders like Representative Marsh.

“Actually what the Red Cross representative said to me is this is often a time of some tumult. And my question to him was if this inspires some kind of concern within communities maybe there’s a better way to do it,” she said.

The Red Cross says fire victims will no longer get to stay in hotels if they meet one of four conditions:

They have no visible damage to their home.

There is damage to the home, but it is considered still livable by FEMA, the county, or the Red Cross.

The person failed to get in touch to verify their pre-disaster address and their continued need for housing or they were homeless before the disaster.

And if they were homeless, the Red Cross needs to verify they were directly affected by the fires.

But the issue for Representative Marsh is how much time people had to get prepared.

“We understand that. But we’ve got to have the timing capacity to help people in the most supportive way possible so we don’t re-initiate the trauma they’ve already experienced,” said Representative Marsh.

For Cruz and her mother who have to be out of the hotel by Monday, they say it’s been overwhelming.

“We don’t have a plan after this. I don’t think a lot of people do,” Cruz said.

The Red Cross tells NBC5 News a majority of the people who got the notice have no visible damage to their home.

NBC5 News will bring you more updates on this developing story.

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