Lo­cal Red Cross vol­un­teer help­ing at shel­ter in Texas

Red Cross dis­patches 115 from re­gion so far to Texas, Louisiana

The Enterprise - - 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 records in bring­ing more than 50 inches of rain in cer­tain ar­eas along with dev­as­tat­ing flood­ing to the re­gion.

As of Wed­nes­day, 115 vol­un­teers from the area 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 to go on 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 that area 12 years ago, she vol­un­teered with Red Cross near New Or­leans for four weeks.

“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 in La Grange, she worked at a makeshift shel­ter in a com­mu­nity cen­ter of a lo­cal church as a shel­ter man- ager. 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 their homes.

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 in be­tween, she said.

One of the shel­ter seek­ers who came along with 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 ac­tivi- ties 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 in be­tween.

“It’s like be­ing in a big bas­ket­ball 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, not only to of­fer tem­po­rary, phys­i­cal re­lief but also emo­tional sup­port, dur­ing the worst days of their lives.

Other than vol­un­teers, Mar­shall said the re­gional chap­ter also sent three emer­gency re­sponse ve­hi­cles to Texas. The ve­hi­cles are loaded with trained vol­un­teers, foods and other sup­plies, func­tion­ing like mo- bile food trucks, he said.

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 man­made 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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