Red Cross volunteer travels to California to help wildfire recovery efforts

Madison (WKOW) — In California, deadly wildfires are destroying homes and burning thousands of acres.

Firefighters and volunteers from across the country are heading to California to help with recovery efforts. One volunteer is from right here in southern Wisconsin.

Barbara Parisi is a Nurse Supervisor with the American Red Cross. She specializes in disaster mental health. She flew to Sacramento from the Dane County Airport on Tuesday. From there, she’ll drive to Redding, where the Carr fire is burning.

Parisi has been a volunteer with the Red Cross since 2010. She most recently volunteered in Canada during last summer’s wildfires. She says her main goal is to help people who have been dealing with the trauma of losing everything.

"Many of them have lost homes, possessions, and just come out with the clothes on their back," Parisi said. "We do try to provide not only mental health services, but some kind of outreach to help them get back on their feet again."

Tom Mooney, Chief Operating Officer with American Red Cross Wisconsin regions says Parisi brings unique experience to the mission.

"She can help people who are grieving, talk them through what they’re going through," said Mooney. "Whether they’ve lost their home, a pet, maybe even a loved one."

Parisi is the first volunteer from southern Wisconsin going to California to help with wildfire recovery. She will stay for about two weeks before traveling back to Wisconsin.

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