By Lena Morris, Red Cross Disaster Relief Volunteer
While the Red Cross provides shelter, food, and case management during disaster relief, there’s another crucial job conducted by volunteers that help the organization give aid to those who need it the most. The homes of those affected by disasters are assessed in order for the Red Cross to determine the assistance required for each household.
The volunteers are given a list of addresses, search for these homes and determine the level of damage, and the information is then sent to headquarters instantly through a mobile app. It might sound easy, but Red Cross damage assessment volunteer Diane Telfer said sometimes these homes are hard to locate or may be difficult to access due to the disaster.
“Challenges included access to the affected areas and affected homes, determining the extent of the damage, and getting the information timely to the right people in order for the information to be useful,” Diane said.
The volunteers often speak with the homeowners if they are present, hearing about their stories of surviving the storms. They are sometimes permitted to see the full extent of the damage inside the home and learn about all that they have lost. The losses are often very severe, making the volunteer’s job even more crucial to properly assess all the help that is needed.
“It is gratifying to help people,” Diane said. “I feel that it is a way to give back for how much God has blessed me.”
Diane traveled from her home at Monmouth, Oregon to assist in the Red Cross disaster relief in Bryan, Texas. Volunteers travel from all over the country when disasters strike. Since the severe weather hit Southern Texas on May 26th, 2016, the Red Cross has opened 37 shelters, served 55256 meals and snacks, with the help of 483 volunteers from all over the nation.
“We all should find a way to serve others whether near or far from home,” Diane said.
If you or anyone you know is in need of assistance please direct them to the American Red Cross serving Central Texas, 1-800-928-4271. To learn more about how you can get involved, visit http://www.redcross.org.