The American Red Cross Southeastern Pennsylvania responds to around 750 local disasters every year, providing survivors with vital emergency relief needs like food, clothing, shelter, medications, mental and spiritual care, and other immediate needs. So it’s no surprise that when a devastating mudslide hit Washington on March 22, SEPA was prepared to help.
Survivors of the mudslide and those affected not only need food, clothing and temporary shelter, they also need someone to lean on and someone to help them figure out what comes next. That’s where SEPA volunteer Danelle Stoppel and employee David Natale come in.
Psychologist, social worker and Disaster Mental Health Supervisor Danelle Stoppel’s deployment to Washington is her 19th for disaster mental health. Danelle’s role in Washington is to provide psychological first aid to the families and victims and help them cope with the disaster. She is also supervising other mental health workers to make sure the survivors, their families as well as families who have suffered loss are getting the support and counseling they need.
“That’s what makes the work with the American Red Cross so special, because the mission is clear. We’re working with people in their time of greatest need,” said Danelle.
Danelle is a veteran to this type of disaster, having assisted with Superstorm Sandy, the Colorado Wildfires, Oklahoma tornadoes and even following the bombing at the Boston Marathon. “Each one is different,” said Danelle. “This appears to be a very difficult disaster.”
With so many families in need of assistance, organization and support for casework efforts are at an all-time high. Emergency Communications Manager for the American Red Cross Southeastern Pennsylvania, David Natale is spending his very first national deployment supervising the casework operations in Washington.
While there, David is helping facilitate the implementation of brand new software that’s used to track casework. This software will help with casework efforts for residents who have suffered damage due to the mudslide. “This is the first time it has ever been utilized on a national disaster operation.” David said, “I held over 8 classes and trained all the caseworkers, health and mental health workers in the new software system.” Casework, which can include referrals to other agencies and relief organizations, financial assistance, mental health services, and longer term recovery assistance, can be hard to keep track of. Using this software, David is able to easily provide help to the people who need it.
Red Cross workers here in Southeastern Pennsylvania are able and willing to answer the call after a disaster here in our region or across the country.