Red Cross Closes Last Relief Center

The Ventura County chapter of the American Red Cross Saturday officially closed its last remaining service center for victims of the Northridge earthquake, winding down its emergency relief effort that started immediately after the Jan. 17 jolt.

Residents needing further assistance should contact the Red Cross office in Los Angeles, county Red Cross Director Brian Bolton said. Individuals who still have urgent or basic needs that resulted from the quake are asked to call (213) 739-4543 to speak with a Red Cross case worker.

Two weeks ago, the Red Cross closed service centers in Fillmore and Simi Valley, the two Ventura County cities hardest hit by the quake. Those services were consolidated to the Red Cross' permanent office in Ventura.

Although the office remains open and will continue to counsel a handful of individuals, any other post-disaster services will be handled by offices in Los Angeles.

"We are continuing to work with some families that have ongoing needs, basically relating to housing," Bolton said. But he said the local chapter needs to focus its efforts on education and preparations for future disasters.

Since the Northridge quake, the county Red Cross chapter provided overnight shelter for about 700 people, counseled more than 1,100 individuals and spent more than $1 million, Bolton said.

"I think we may have spent $400,000 for some floods in the '70s, but nothing has come close to this," Bolton said. "This is the largest single disaster this chapter has ever been involved in."

Bolton said he is proud of the professional response put forth by local volunteers.

"I'm very pleased with the work our chapter and the volunteers did," he said. "As we looked at what was going on in Southern California, we felt Ventura County was a little ahead."

But Bolton added: "I hope we don't have any more of these."

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