Red Cross focuses on security concerns at evac shelter

Officers with the California Highway Patrol gather at the Silver Dollar Fair Ground in Chico.

Concerns started popping up on Facebook this week about the safety of evacuees at an American Red Cross shelter in Chico after a needle was found on the premises, which fueled rumors of a drug overdose.

The needle turned out to be insulin for diabetics, and no overdose occurred.

The Red Cross doesn't ask any questions to those they welcome into their shelter, at least not at first. A Red Cross spokesman said they're open to anyone looking for a place to stay, whether they be evacuee or transient.

Even still, Red Cross Public Information Officer Steve Walsh explained security precautions being taken to protect evacuees at the shelter.

"There's private security that's on site that's here at the county's request, and we have law enforcement that's here regularly to greet people as they come in. I am not aware of any serious incidents that have happened but they're patrolling the area regularly," Walsh said.

The shelter is broken up into different buildings. There's housing for men, women, and families. There's also a large security presence, both from private contractors and police officers.

Although people are free to come and go at any hour, there's informal operating times for check in and registration, typically from 7:00 am to 8:00 pm. This helps the Red Cross keep tabs of who is staying at the shelter.

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