The American Red Cross continues to respond to flooding along the Mississippi River and areas of the South where devastating tornadoes recently destroyed entire communities.
As the start of hurricane season looms on the horizon, much of the country is still recuperating from an overactive spring. There have been 25 large Red Cross relief operations in 20 states since March 31, including wildfires in Texas, tornadoes across much of the South, and flooding along major waterways including the current Mississippi River flooding.
More than 8,800 Red Cross workers have responded since March 31, helping people whose lives have been changed forever by these disasters. The Red Cross has opened hundreds of shelters, served more than 1.8 million meals and snacks as well as handed out more than one million relief items like tarps, gloves, coolers and brooms to thousands of people in need.
Many of those responding are Red Cross volunteers who hail from all 50 states. Some of them are retired members of the Armed Forces. In fact, in western Tennessee alone, 37 Red Cross volunteers are retired servicemen.
When asked how their time in the military prepared them for volunteering on a disaster, Keith Huchenson, Michigan, retired United States Air Force (USAF), explained, “The military gave me leadership and management skills. We have the adaptability and flexibility needed to serve.”
Others such as Larry Goldberg, a retired member of the U.S. Marine Corps from South Carolina, said his volunteer service began many years ago when he volunteered to serve his country. “My experience started with the Bay of Pigs and the Vietnam war,” he said, adding that his time in the military gave him managerial and public relations skills in his operations director and instructor positions. “If I can comfort one person, it makes me feel so good that I’ve done something to help,” Goldberg said. “That’s what it’s all about.”
Florida’s Jim Rosa, another USAF retiree, began to volunteer after the Red Cross helped him when his mother was ill through the Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces (SAF) program. The Red Cross contacted him to alert him of his mother’s illness and flew him home to be with her. “I knew I had to give back,” he said.
”I will be a volunteer as long as a need exists,” said Ohio’s Jim Scholar, USAF retiree. “I have the opportunity to volunteer; I also have the obligation to serve.”
More than 2,100 Red Cross workers continue to help people along the Mississippi River and in areas across the south where tornadoes wiped out entire communities. Working side-by-side with volunteers from partner organizations, they are operating shelters, distributing meals and clean-up supplies, and providing health and mental health services.
The Red Cross estimates that it will spend as much as $31 million responding to the recent disasters, and has received $27.6 million in pledges and contributions for those operations.
Those who want to help can make a donation to support American Red Cross Disaster Relief. This gift enables the Red Cross to prepare for and provide shelter, food, emotional support and other assistance in response to disasters. Visit www.redcross.org or call 1-800-RED-CROSS; you can also text the word “REDCROSS” to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Contributions may also be sent to local American Red Cross chapters or to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013.