When you think of having overnight guests, would the arrival of 800 men, women and children be too many? How about making sure there’s enough food to serve up 33,000 meals or 36,000 snacks? Not a problem for Steve Ade, Salina, who thrives on challenges like that. In fact, that would be a small ‘sleepover’ compared to the one he presided over last year in Mississippi. Ade, Mass Care Chief for the American Red Cross and volunteer for North Central Kansas Chapter, spent the last two weeks in Kentucky making sure that the victims of the recent spate of tornados had plenty to eat and a safe place to sleep while they began rebuilding their lives. In fact, when Ade got the call for Kentucky, he was just returning with his wife from a vacation in Key West. “I got home, repacked my suitcase and was headed back out the door,” he said. When he arrived in Kentucky, he found that he would need to serve both Indiana and Kentucky, both hard hit by the tornadoes that tore through Indiana, Missouri and Ohio.
Ade, one of only 25 individuals across the country to achieve the level of Mass Care Chief, is invariably requested by name at the beginning of large scale national disasters. Getting the response underway is at its most volatile and time critical. “It’s crucial that we get started quickly and begin helping people – yesterday,” he laughs. “The folks we’re serving didn’t know a week ago that they’d be homeless today. When it comes to having a meal, taking a nap or finding a shoulder to cry on, they depend on the Red Cross to take care of them. We’re here for them so they have a few less things to worry about.” Ade adds.
Ade just returned after two weeks where he managed the sheltering of 800. Last year he spent three weeks at an even larger operation in Mississippi during 2011’s devastating spring storm season. He was originally deployed to respond to the tornado victims and then redirected his attention when the Mississippi River flooded and displaced thousands of individuals.
This year, the recent severe weather in the South and Midwest has kept the Red Cross and its volunteers very busy. They have opened 33 shelters with over 1,000 overnight stays, provided health and mental health services and distributed nearly 61,500 clean up kits, comfort kits and bulk goods such as shovels, rakes, gloves and trash bags. To date, Red Cross volunteers and partnering groups have served 92,500 meals.
The North Central Kansas Chapter of the American Red Cross serves fifteen counties including Saline, McPherson, Marion, Cloud, Ottawa, Dickinson, Ellsworth, Mitchell, Jewell, Republic, Smith, Osborne, Rooks, Phillips and Lincoln. For more information about the Red Cross or to volunteer, contact (785) 827-3644.
About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and counsels victims of disasters; provides nearly half of the nation's blood supply; teaches lifesaving skills; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a charitable organization and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its humanitarian mission of preventing and alleviating human suffering. For more information, please visit www.redcross.org or contact us at North Central Kansas Chapter at (785) 827-3644.