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Elmira Volunteer Deployed to Saipan

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American Red Cross volunteer Thomas Wallace of Elmira deployed Sunday to the island of Saipan, where he will serve in Disaster Mental Health as part of the response to Typhoon Soudelor. Wallace becomes the second Western and Central New York Region volunteer to deploy to the Mariana Islands response, joining Lucille Frisicano of Webster, who deployed Thursday for Health Services.

On Sunday, August 2, Typhoon Soudelor struck Saipan (part of the US Commonwealth Northern Mariana Islands) causing the worst devastation the island has seen in years. Preliminary reports suggest over 800 homes are damaged and power may not be fully restored to the islands for four weeks or longer.

The American Red Cross has an office on Saipan and volunteers have been providing help around the clock. Here’s a quick snapshot of Red Cross efforts, as of August 7:

  • * Mobilized a team of 41 people currently on the island to provide support with sheltering, feeding, logistics and damage assessments. Dozens of additional workers are either en route to the island or on standby to travel.
  • * Served more than 5,600 meals in government-operated shelters where nearly 600 people have sought refuge.
  • * Shipped more than 600 rice cookers to Saipan which are en route now.
  • * Received more than 2,000 calls and visits from people seeking help – that’s nearly 5 percent of the total population of Saipan.
  • * Created a relief plan to get financial assistance and critical relief supplies to thousands of people in the hardest hit areas. These supplies, currently being mobilized, include bags of rice, canned meat, hygiene products, flashlights, butane stoves, cleaning supplies and tarps.

“I have seen multiple primary power poles down; I have seen cars flipped over the road; I have seen lots of torn roofs,” John Hirsh, executive director of the American Red Cross in Saipan, told Pacific Daily News. Damage was “extensive” across the island and there had been significant damage to public infrastructure, he said.

To aid in the relief efforts, several highly trained Red Cross volunteers from the mainland United States are on the ground or en route to assist. Volunteers from IllinoisNebraskaNew York, and elsewhere are giving their time and talents to help get the devastated communities of Saipan back on their feet.

HOW TO HELP People can help by donating to Red Cross Disaster Relief by visiting, calling 1-800-RED CROSS or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Donations to Disaster Relief will be used to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters big and small. We respond to nearly 70,000 other disasters every year, from home fires to hurricanes and more. Learn more about how Disaster Relief donations have helped people affected by previous disasters including home fires.