Release: Louisiana Capital Area Chapter 9.18.08

HOW DOES THE AMERICAN RED CROSS HELP OTHERS WHEN THEY NEED HELP?

BATON ROUGE, Louisiana (September 18, 2008) – The mission of the American Red Cross is to help people prevent, prepare for and respond to life’s emergencies. But, the American Red Cross now needs the help from you.

The week before Hurricane Gustav would make landfall, the American Red Cross set up four administrative headquarters ready to help people. Those headquarters were located in Dallas, Texas; Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Hattiesburg, Mississippi; and Montgomery, Alabama. Volunteers, vehicles and resources were already receiving assignments at these headquarters when Hurricane Gustav had just entered the Gulf of Mexico. Within days, over 50 Emergency Response Vehicles were on the ground along the Gulf Coast to meet the needs of those affected by Hurricane Gustav. Volunteers arrived from across the country, and they were assigned to various positions: sheltering, mass care feeding, mental health services, health services, staffing, etc. These volunteers have previously deployed with the Red Cross and have the training necessary to respond to a disaster.

As the storm made landfall, the Red Cross-volunteers and equipment-was there to help those affected by Hurricane Gustav. Shelters were opened for people in need, and the American Red Cross provided a safe and secure location for individuals and families affected by the storm. Volunteers were there to provide a meal, a snack, a clean-up kit with personal hygiene items, a hug and support. After the storm passed, Emergency Response Vehicles canvassed areas with Damage Assessment Teams to assess the significant structural damage to our communities. This would become the basis of emergency financial assistance. Shelters numbers were fluctuating as people returned to their homes and others could no longer live in their homes.

The Red Cross partners with the Southern Baptists in times of disaster. The Southern Baptists organization cooks meals, and the Red Cross volunteers load those meals into trucks. The meals are transported to area shelters as well as in hardest-hit neighborhoods without power. Several kitchens were opened in the area, and Red Cross teams were able to serve up to 400,000 meals each day in the area.

Damage assessment continued, and client casework began with teams knocking on doors to meet those with damage to their homes. Some people state they have insurance or other help, but others need the help of the American Red Cross. The Red Cross mental health volunteers are in high demand, as individuals often need someone to talk to.

With many disasters affecting the country prior to Hurricane Gustav, the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund was depleted. The American Red Cross faced the tough question of whether we could provide services to those in need, but we continued our mission and did this with borrowed money.

Financial contributions allow American Red Cross to continue serving people affected by this disaster. The Red Cross can provide a safe place for a family to sleep at night in a shelter, a hot meal served from an Emergency Response Vehicle, or a hug from a mental health volunteer. The Red Cross can provide help to those in most need because of this donation. There is still a need.

Without the help of volunteers and donors, the American Red Cross could not survive. The organization is chartered by Congress to provide services to those affected by disasters, but the Red Cross relies solely on the generosity of the American people for their time and money. All Red Cross disaster assistance is free, and the Red Cross does not ask your income, race, religion or other values.

After walking into a shelter, I met a couple who had evacuated New Orleans. They did this in 2005 with Katrina and stayed in a Red Cross shelter. They were now in Livingston parish waiting to return home, but they once again thanked the American Red Cross for opening shelters and providing support and services to them. When you meet innocent children who have no idea why they aren’t sleeping at home, but they smile when you play games with them, you realize why you volunteer for the American Red Cross. When you meet volunteers coming in from across the country to drive a truck, serve a meal, or provide emotional support, you know the American Red Cross is a great organization.

Please help the American Red Cross by donating to the Disaster Relief Fund:
American Red Cross
Louisiana Capital Area Chapter
10201 Celtic Drive
Baton Rouge, LA 70809
1 800- RED-CROSS
www.batonrouge.redcross.org


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