As Hurricane Isaac unleashed its devastation on the Gulf Coast, Gary Higgins, the Logistics Lead for the American Red Cross of the Bay Area in Contra Costa County and a Bethel Island resident, packed quickly and headed out to help.
Deployed first to the Disaster Response Operation headquarters in Montgomery, Alabama, Higgins then went to Port Allen in Baton Rouge Metropolitan area of the state,
on the west bank of the Mississippi River. The mighty Mississippi had overflowed into numerous Louisiana communities along its southern path, causing a torrent of emergency needs.
Higgins was responsible for organizing and supervising the daily courier routes to all the kitchens and warehouses set up to help out the thousands of affected people in the region, along with maintaining delivery services to the local chapter offices.
He also oversaw the comings and goings of more than 700 cars and more than 100 box trucks entrusted to American Red Cross volunteers out in the field, U.S. Postal Service drop-offs and Fed Ex deliveries. Four days of his assignment were spent at Red Cross headquarters in New Orleans helping supervise rental car operations there.
“See a need, fill a need,” observed Higgins, a retired electrician.
In addition to the satisfaction of helping others, Higgins enjoyed bumping into five American Red Cross volunteers he met during deployment after Hurricanes Gustav and Ike in 2008. He also encountered about half a dozen fellow Bay Area volunteers during his latest deployment.
The weather may have been hot and muggy, but Higgins said that didn’t dampen his enthusiasm for the Red Cross.
Ever the helpful volunteer, Higgins, who said he is ready to deploy at a moment’s notice, shared a couple of tips for fledgling volunteers who might deploy in coming months.
Bring a few laundry soap capsules and fabric softening sheets in a plastic baggie. Write up vital information cards, seal them in plastic and clip them to a lanyard you can wear around your neck. After, practice preparedness year-round!