By Michele Maki, american red cross
Close your eyes and image for a moment, you have survived a terrifying flood that tore through your home in the middle of the night. Now the flood waters have receded and the process of recovery begins. Drywall, appliances, floors, carpet, furniture-it all must be torn out and thrown away. There is humidity and mold. There are continuing severe storm outbreaks that bring more rain. This nightmare never seems to end. And, to make matters worse, your home has been cut off from your town and neighbors by a collapsed bridge.
On the other side of the river, a Red Cross volunteer vents her frustration that she has not been able to get her Emergency Response Vehicle across the river to reach folks cut off by this disaster. “There are areas we haven’t been able to reach yet” Mary Brown, a volunteer from Tucson, AZ shares, “and it weighs heavily on all our minds. Those folks must have thought time forgot them.”
A little reassurance comes from the local sheriff who advises Brown and her response team that the road is now open for emergency vehicles such as hers and local residents who are trying to recover. Brown is assured that it is now safe to cross.
Damaged homes can be seen here and there from these narrow country roads and now the challenge is, how to reach everyone? Where homes are clustered together, lots of volunteers and clean-up crews can be seen, the team stops and feeds everyone who is hungry. But how to reach these scattered homes in opposite directions? A plan is devised and the team splits up and hand-carries meals in, walking down the narrow. Even the Red Cross photographer who has been following the team pitches in. With this kind of teamwork, the mission is completed.
“Sometimes we have to think outside the box to make it happen.” Brown explains. “These dirt roads are so narrow and overgrown with trees, that getting our feeding truck in safely would be near impossible. But we got it done! I’m happy with that. Teamwork and Red Cross ingenuity works every time!”