[KHTS] – The Red Cross Santa Clarita District Office on Valencia Boulevard near City Hall will be closing by the end of the month, Scott Underwood, Red Cross Los Angeles regional disaster program officer, said Tuesday.
We have lost our lease,” Underwood said.
Carl Goldman, co-owner of KHTS AM-1220 and previous chair of the Red Cross Santa Clarita Chapter for two separate terms in the mid 1990s and the mid 2000s, expressed concern about what this could mean for the Santa Clarita Valley.
Goldman also currently heads up the Santa Clarita Valley Disaster Coalition.
“I had several calls from concerned Red Cross volunteers that there is going to be a meeting (Tuesday night) to announce that they’re closing the Santa Clarita office,” Goldman said.
He worried that without a local Red Cross office, the Santa Clarita Valley would be cut off from relief aid in the event of a major disaster, like the 1994 Northridge earthquake or the 2007 tunnel fire on Interstate 5. Both these incidents disrupted main freeway access into the SCV from the rest of Los Angeles County.
“When another emergency happens, that seals us off, I believe the Red Cross will be challenged to perform their mandate of assisting us in those first few days,” Goldman said. “…My concern is where will the Red Cross be during those critical first 36 to 48 hours during a major emergency if they have no access from Los Angeles up to the Santa Clarita Valley.”
Underwood said that closing the Valencia Boulevard office did not mean the end of the Red Cross’ presence in the Santa Clarita Valley.
“We’re going to be exploring with the city and with other NGOs if there’s a space that we can support in the Santa Clarita area,” he said.
But he also said that while Red Cross supplies and emergency vehicles will remain in the SCV, “we just might not have a local office.”
The other district offices closest to the SCV are located in the San Fernando Valley, the Antelope Valley and Ventura.
Addressing the concern that aid would not be able to reach the area in the case of an emergency, Underwood said, “There’s more than one way into the Santa Clarita Valley. We do have a response capability in the area. We have some containers with supplies.”
These supplies are placed at “strategic locations throughout the valley” that could be used as shelters if needed.
Goldman mentioned what an impact the Red Cross has made in the SCV for decades, handling “everything from a major disaster to a home fire.”
Underwood said that whatever decision the L.A. Chapter makes about a local office, the Red Cross intends to be there for the Santa Clarita Valley “for the long term.”
Right now, they are just “assessing where we need be,” he said.