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Red Cross Works with Partners to Deliver Meals, Supplies in Alabama

The American Red Cross relief operation in Alabama continues in response to a series of tornadoes that hit the state earlier this week.

The Red Cross has shelters open in Alabama to offer those affected a safe place to stay, has served more than 6,600 hot meals and snacks and distributed more than 700 relief items. Red Cross disaster workers are traveling throughout the region to deliver hot meals prepared by Southern Baptist Convention volunteers, and will continue to distribute relief items over the coming days.

It is with the help of partners such as the Southern Baptist Convention and the NAACP that the Red Cross is able to reach people immediately after a disaster.

Just days after tornadoes tore through neighborhoods surrounding Birmingham, there’s nothing Steve Branch wants to be doing more than helping the Red Cross. Branch has unfortunately seen his share of disasters, most recently as the head of the NAACP’s disaster response following the Tuscaloosa tornado in 2011. Branch is again lending a hand as part of the partnership between the NAACP and the Red Cross, a partnership Branch values a great deal.

NAACP disaster liaison Steve Branch meets with Red Cross volunteer John Manners at the Red Cross Disaster Operations Center to map out a plan to help people in tornado-ravaged areas outside Birmingham, Ala., on January 26, 2012. Photo: Dave Schrader/American Red Cross.

“The NAACP and the Red Cross serve as a bridge,” Branch said. “They are a bridge to bring people together to help each other.”

Branch says that within 24 hours dozens of NAACP members from around Alabama will descend on Birmingham. In conjunction with the Red Cross, they will handle administrative and field work, including fanning out to the hardest hit areas to meet with residents. Branch says the volunteers will be organized by expertise and then assigned to help where the needs are greatest.

“First and foremost, we are here to help,” Branch said. “But we also want to enlighten and educate residents about the kind of assistance the Red Cross provides and how to get it.”

The partnership between the Red Cross and the NAACP is just one of many the Red Cross has formed over the years and which is being put to good use in Alabama.

The Southern Baptist Convention and the Red Cross are longtime partners and are once again working together to serve hundreds of meals to people who don’t have power or the means to cook their own meals.

After a disaster such as the tornadoes that hit Alabama this week, the Red Cross purchases the meal ingredients, the Southern Baptists prepare it in a makeshift kitchen set up outside one of the shelters, and then Red Cross volunteers load up the food in their vehicles and hand deliver the meals to people at their homes or in their neighborhoods.

Just like the Red Cross cannot do what it does without the generous support of donations from the public, it also cannot carry out its work without the many partnerships it has formed over the years. The Red Cross is continually forming new relationships, like the one it has with Steve Branch and the NAACP, so it can continue to respond to disasters quickly, effectively and efficiently.