The American Red Cross is fortunate to work with a variety of generous corporate supporters every day. After the floods in South Carolina began in early October, many of these organizations stood up to help relief and recovery efforts.
To celebrate these partnerships and illustrate their impact on communities, the Red Cross organized a trip for donors to observe relief operations firsthand in Columbia, S.C., in mid-October. Many attendees, such as Enterprise Rent-A-Car Foundation, The Home Depot, Aon, AstraZeneca, Farmers Insurance and U-Haul International, represented the Annual Disaster Giving Program and the Disaster Responder Program, the premier corporate membership programs at the Red Cross.
Additional organizations, such as BD, Duke Energy, International Paper and Sealed Air, also joined the trip after making significant donations to help support local response efforts. This disaster hit close to home for many of these donors who had office locations and employee homes that were destroyed or damaged by flooding.
The group spent the day touring kitchen facilities and observing food distribution through Red Cross emergency response vehicles; they even helped serve meals to members of the communities. Then, they learned about the wide variety of logistical and operational coordination required during large disaster responses. To close out the day’s activities, attendees walked through a Red Cross warehouse where they learned more about in-kind donations and distribution of essential relief supplies to affected communities.
“The logistics going into this response effort and the speed that Red Cross is getting things done is impressive,” said Laura Ray, HR BPO Customer Service Domain Manager with Aon. “The spirit of volunteers is fantastic, especially on such a large scale,” added Ryan Mosier, South Carolina Corporate Communications director for Duke Energy.
Since flooding began, the Red Cross has worked with community partners to serve more than 154,000 meals and snacks, hand out more than 181,000 relief items and provide more than 6,800 health and mental health services (figures as of October 30, 2015). Tap water is safe to drink in Columbia now and road workers are making progress, but many fixes to infrastructure, including dams and bridges, will still take more time to repair as water continues to drain out of the area.
“It was interesting to learn how long it can take during a flood incident to get data about the number of houses affected,” said Sylvester Johnson, South Carolina District Manager with The Home Depot. “I didn’t realize entire communities would be under water for so long, preventing immediate analysis and recovery efforts.”
The road to recovery may be long for many residents and businesses in South Carolina, but the Red Cross will be there every step of the way and will not leave until the recovery process is over and everyone in need has been served. This dedication and service is possible because of committed and passionate organizations like these and so many others, and the Red Cross is sincerely grateful.
“I grew up in Columbia. Watching these great volunteers help my hometown – this is the best Friday I’ve had in a long time,” said Ryan Mosier.