Red Cross offers support in times of disaster
Published 2:25 pm Sunday, July 9, 2023
The American Red Cross responds to an emergency every eight minutes. The organization is most notably recognized for its assistance with natural disasters, such as hurricanes and large flooding events, but what is rarely reported is how the Red Cross offers help to families affected by home fires, or other smaller-scale catastrophes that severely affect a community.
Each year, the American Red Cross responds immediately to nearly 70,000 disasters, including single-family and apartment home fires, hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, wildfires, tornadoes, hazardous materials spills, transportation accidents, explosions and other natural and human-caused disasters. 95% of their disaster relief workers are volunteers, with the vast majority of disasters responded to being home fires.
David Jones, disaster manager with the Red Cross for the northeast North Carolina region, said, “Our purpose is to assist in the immediate.” The Red Cross focuses on getting to those who are in need of help quickly and providing clients with the support they need upon arrival. Whether it be clothing, financial assistance, a place to stay or even emotional support after a traumatic event, the organization sends its volunteers and utilizes its partnerships and to make sure clients are being taken care of.
Jones started as a volunteer with the Red Cross 10 years ago. His reason for becoming involved had to do with the lack of presence the organization had in his community. The Rocky Mount/Tarboro/Wilson areas had been experiencing a lot of flooding issues around that time, and Jones had heard about how the Red Cross had served thousands of flooding victims over the years. “I learned a lot more, and learned someone has to take that aggressive step to say, ‘We need you in our community.’ I looked at the opportunities to serve people … who are we serving, and are we serving them correctly?”
Glenn Daniels, disaster program specialist, said their mission is to “alleviate human suffering in our population.”
“It’s very enjoyable,” he added, “It’s very challenging and fulfilling, and it keeps us busy.”
Daniels works closely alongside another disaster program specialist, Courtney Murph. The two work to coordinate and support volunteers in the northeast region of the state, collectively covering 16 counties.
The impressive list of services the Red Cross offers would not be possible without the help of volunteers. Manteo’s emergency manager/fire marshal Kevin Zorc has been a Red Cross volunteer for five years and appreciates the level of service that the organization has brought to the Dare County community. “I’m involved in the disaster piece … that brings value to my life, and I’ve seen the results of those services help others.”
From a robust training program, to overall outreach and stellar communication, Zorc said the Red Cross has provided all of the tools he has needed to “get this job done.” Jones noted that the Dare County community is very close and on top of each situation that presents itself, and that has made for a great partnership. “The community, especially in Dare, they’re a really strong community for assisting the people that live there.” He added, “They’re always ready and prepared to jump into action.”
Daniels comes from a 25-year background in emergency services. His willingness to serve has lent itself well to his position with the Red Cross. “On a grand scale, it’s impactful because we bring certain resources to bear. We might help them [the clients] stay in their house, that becomes impactful to community as a whole. It lends to the vitality and resilience of a community.” He shared, “Just that act of sitting and talking and listening and maybe even giving them a hug. Sometimes they just need someone to empathize with. That’s why we do this. You have to have the want and the need to serve; the Red Cross definitely gives me the avenue to do this.”
Murph got involved with the Red Cross after an interning with the organization. Her role places a large emphasis on having the ability to work well with others and learning what the best ways are to serve different communities. “We collaborate well with our team, that’s the big thing. We have to have a good working relationship with our volunteers. They’re out there in community, they know what the community needs and they advocate for their community. Our biggest task is managing those volunteers, hearing the things that the community needs and being that support system for them.”
“We’ve received a good response from people interested in the Red Cross from Courtney’s area and the numbers have increased for us,” Jones shared. “We just want to acknowledge them and appreciate the fact that the area has grown and there is a lot of support.”
Zorc acknowledged that the Outer Banks community is in need of more Red Cross volunteers, and encouraged anyone thinking about the idea of becoming a volunteer to look into it. “You may be faced with trying situations, and have to help clients get through some of their most difficult days … there’s a lot of job satisfaction in knowing you tried to help, and get them connected to services to help them recover.”
“Kevin’s been with us probably the longest,” Jones voiced. “His experience and past jobs have led him back to us. It’s great to have someone who puts us out there in that positive light. He’s a great guy, and a team player.”
To learn more about the American Red Cross and the services the organization provides, visit redcross.org. For those interested in becoming a volunteer, email Courtney Murph at email@example.com.