With the approaching El Niño weather, Colleen Meyer, executive director of the Idyllwild HELP Center, and Skye Zambrana, client services administrator, are concerned whether the center’s clients and elderly local residents will be prepared for the rains and potential flooding.

“We’re trying to deal with the whole person, not just an isolated situation. We want to keep the sense of crisis down, people can reach out to us,” Meyer said. “This is a place to come and get information and help regardless of whether you’re a client.”

Sandbags for their clients is one issue they are addressing, but from their own experience trying to fill a sandbag (it requires at least two people), Meyer expressed dismay, “How do elderly clients lift sandbags?”

For the impending winter cold, blankets and jackets will be available, Meyer stated.

The HELP Center also will continue to offer its food pantry, firewood and assistance with winter energy bills. The Mountain Communities Fire Safe Council Woodies have spent months cutting and splitting wood for the center’s winter clients, who consume 75 to 100 pieces weekly. Frequently, they have to bring the wood to the clients who lack transportation.

The Idyllwild Community Fund has provided money to subsidize propane bills.

Contributing to Meyer’s concern for locals this winter is her experience from when the evacuation was ordered during the Mountain Fire in 2013.

“Many of these people don’t have Internet access or cell phones,” she lamented. “In a large event, how do we contact the clients? Seventy to 75 percent of them are disabled or elderly.”

“We aim to be a resource center, not just a help center,” Meyer stressed. “We want to do preventive steps, too.”

As an example of this re-direction, the HELP Center has funds for doctor and dental appointments. People are getting teeth cleaned and may avoid the need for fillings or extractions, she added.

Next on the agenda will be Thanksgiving and Christmas meals as well as the Angel Tree gifts.

The HELP Center phone number is 951-659-2110. Donations may be made online by visiting their Website at http://idyllwildhelpcenter.org/donate-2.