Yvette Davillier was frantic to leave New Orleans before Hurricane Katrina hit the city, but bumper-to-bumper traffic slowed her exodus. She and her 6-year-old daughter, Jessica, were headed toward Hattisburg, Mississippi on Aug. 29, 2005, but the winds were so strong that a tree fell on her car, destroying it. She and Jessica sought refuge at a nearby Red Cross shelter.
A few days later, the two took a bus to Los Angeles, where Davillier had once worked. She and Jessica came to the Red Cross Family Service Center that the L.A. Chapter opened shortly after the hurricane to assist evacuees who made their way to L.A. While Davillier received assistance, volunteers engaged Jessica and other children in play therapy to relieve stress and calm fears.
Opening the service center, which assisted some 1,800 families in the month following Katrina, is just one of ways the L.A. Chapter responded to Katrina. These families received more than $1 million in direct financial assistance for emergency needs, including food and clothing. The chapter placed more than a third of the families in local hotels. Evacuees also had access to medical and mental health professionals at the center.
In addition, the chapter sent 130 local volunteers to help at disaster shelters established closer to New Orleans and sent two Emergency Response Vehicles, which delivered meals and comfort kits. Staff and volunteers worked in two call centers, fielding more than 15,000 phone calls and emails, providing information on Red Cross services and activities, how to reconnect with loved ones and how to volunteer. They also helped at numerous fundraising events.
Thank you to our volunteers who helped evacuees and thanks to the thousands of local residents who donated generously to help the Red Cross assist those from New Orleans, LA.