Lo­cal Red Cross vol­un­teer helps with Har­vey

The Calvert Recorder - - Front Page - By DANDAN ZOU dzou@somd­news.com Twit­ter: @Dan­danEn­tNews

The Red Cross Greater Ch­e­sa­peake Re­gion is send­ing more vol­un­teers to help with lo­cal dis­as­ter re­lief ef­forts in Texas and Louisiana as Hur­ri­cane Har­vey sets a record in bring­ing more than 50 inches of rain in cer­tain ar­eas of the re­gion, along with dev­as­tat­ing flood­ing.

As of Wed­nes­day, 115 vol­un­teers have been sent on a two-week de­ploy­ment to Texas and Louisiana, said Ja­son Mar­shall, the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s South­ern Mary­land di­rec­tor. More vol­un­teers, in­clud­ing him­self, are still stand­ing by, wait­ing for de­ploy­ment.

Glo­ria Della of is one of the many vol­un­teers dis­patched to Texas. Della, a leg­isla­tive an­a­lyst liv­ing in Calvert, grew up about 30 min­utes out­side of New Or­leans. When Hur­ri­cane Ka­t­rina dev­as­tated the area 12 years ago, she vol­un­teered with Red Cross for four weeks.

“[Hur­ri­cane] Ka­t­rina was prob­a­bly more dev­as­tat­ing,” Della said Tues­day. But “for in­di­vid­u­als, it’s [nev­er­the­less] very per­sonal and dev­as­tat­ing.”

Orig­i­nally plan­ning to go to Hous­ton on Fri­day, Della ended up in La Grange, Texas, a small town with a pop­u­la­tion of about 4,700 be­tween Austin and Hous­ton. Like many places in Texas, La Grange was heav­ily flooded by the rain, which also caused the nearby Colorado River to over­flow, ex­ac­er­bat­ing the sit­u­a­tion.

When it rained, Della said “it was like a sheet of wa­ter with the wind push­ing it.”

Dur­ing her time at La Grange, she worked at a makeshift shel­ter in a com­mu­nity cen­ter of a lo­cal church as a shel­ter man­ager. Her shel­ter hosted a flow of res­i­dents who came and left, rang­ing from 40 to 70 peo­ple de­pend­ing on the time and day. Her job was mainly to “do what­ever you do to get peo­ple what they need,” she said. On Tues­day, Della said the rain stopped and the sun came out. Some peo­ple left to check dam­age at home.

While she was there, Della said she saw “strange things” like a horse be­ing res­cued and fam­i­lies on their way to Dal­las with their en­tire pos­ses­sions.

“These peo­ple had packed up ev­ery­thing they had,” only to end up be­ing stuck, she said.

One of the shel­ter seek­ers who came along her fam­ily was a girl named Anne. Della es­ti­mated her to be about 5 years old and she was help­ing Della to main­tain con­trol of the chil­dren and or­ga­niz­ing ac­tiv­i­ties in the shel­ter.

“A shel­ter is like a small, cos­mopoli­tan en­vi­ron­ment,” Della said, not­ing peo­ple of­fer their skills to meet the needs in the mo­ment.

While she was in La Grange, Della slept in a cot in the shel­ter. Each cot had about 20 feet of space be­tween them. “It’s like be­ing in a big bas­ket- ball court where you are sleep­ing over, ex­cept that peo­ple are think­ing about what are they go­ing to do when they leave here,” she said.

For her, Della said there’s noth­ing like the feel­ing of help­ing oth­ers, to of­fer not only tem­po­rary, phys­i­cal re­lief, but also emo­tional sup­port, dur­ing the worst days of their life.

Other than vol­un­teers, Mar­shall said the regional chap­ter also sent three emer­gency re­sponse ve­hi­cles to Texas loaded with trained vol­un­teers, food and other sup­plies, func­tion­ing like mo­bile food trucks. While some vol­un­teers are on de­ploy­ment, Mar­shall said the lo­cal chap­ters could use some help fill­ing lo­cal needs.

Other than re­spond­ing to nat­u­ral dis­as­ters like Hur­ri­cane Har­vey, Red Cross of­fers emer­gency ho­tel stays, food and cloth­ing for those who are dis­placed as a re­sult of nat­u­ral or man-made dis­as­ters such as floods, house fires, haz­ardous ma­te­rial spills and car ac­ci­dents. For those in­ter­ested in vol­un­teer­ing lo­cally, Mar­shall sug­gests peo­ple con­tact the South­ern Mary­land Chap­ter’s vol­un­teer spe­cial­ist, Glo­ria Coli­ton, at 410-624-2013 or glo­ria.coli­ton@redcross. org. Peo­ple can also help those af­fected by Hur­ri­cane Har­vey by vis­it­ing redcross.org, call­ing 1-800-RED-CROSS or tex­ting HAR­VEY to 90999 to make a $10 do­na­tion.

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