The Red Cross relief operation for Hurricane Isaac is expected to continue for weeks, as tens of thousands of people remain without power in Louisiana.
On Tuesday night, approximately 770 people stayed in 12 Red Cross or community shelters in Louisiana and Mississippi. The Red Cross is serving thousands of meals a day in partnership with the Southern Baptist Convention, totaling more than 330,900 meals and snacks so far. More than 100 Red Cross emergency response vehicles are also distributing meals and truckloads of relief supplies in affected neighborhoods.
More than 1,900 trained Red Cross disaster workers are providing emotional support, food, water and supplies like clean up and personal hygiene items, coolers, shovels, rakes, tarps, gloves and masks to people in need.
The Mexican Red Cross has come to the aid of those affected by Isaac by sending a group of 15 delegates to Louisiana.
The group, which arrived in the United States on August 31, first worked in a Red Cross warehouse in Houston and then relocated to Port Allen, La.
Working side by side with American Red Cross volunteers in Port Allen, the Mexican Red Cross team has been unloading trailers full of relief supplies and reorganizing them for distribution to the communities of Slidell, Covington, LaPlace, Good Hope and Kenner.
Supplies included pallets of water and cleanup kits – rakes, shovels, gloves, cleaning products, garbage bags and more to help people begin their recovery process.
The partnership marks the fourth time in recent years that the Mexican Red Cross has sent personnel to the United States to assist in disaster response, including Hurricane Katrina in 2005, San Diego Wildfires in 2007 and Hurricane Ike in 2008.
For many of the volunteers this is a return trip, but for a few this is their first time helping out the American Red Cross.
Gustavo Santillan, a registered EMT, has been volunteering for the Mexican Red Cross for the last eight years, and volunteers on the weekend while attending medical school in Matamoros, Mexico, during the week.
The Isaac response in Louisiana is his first international deployment, and he is excited not only for the opportunity to help, but because his sister, Perla Santillan, is a volunteer with the Red Cross chapter in Austin, Texas.
Santillan laughed as he described how they were working together. “On the phone, she told me she loaded the relief supplies just a few days ago and it is now my job to unload them here, from the same truck.”
The team from the Mexican Red Cross will spend at least a week providing support to the disaster relief operation.
“The Mexican Red Cross arrives ready to work hard and to help, with an amazing amount of experience and commitment to the mission,” said Dario Díaz who is with the American Red Cross and serving for the second time as the liaison to the Mexican Red Cross team.
“ I am very excited for the opportunity to work with them again."
Louisiana residents were also happy for the Red Cross help. Robert Meyer of Kenner expressed his gratitude as he held up his blistered hands, “you are angels for bringing me gloves.”