After big disasters like the Louisiana floods, the Red Cross goes the extra mile to find isolated communities who may be hesitant to access relief services. In some cases, people avoid large multiagency relief fairs—where many people get help—because of language barriers, misperceptions and uncertainty about where to turn and who to trust.
To help serve Spanish-speaking communities affected by the floods in Louisiana, 10 disaster specialists from the Mexican Red Cross came to work side-by-side with American Red Cross volunteers. "It's a privilege to return to the U.S. to support our sister Red Crossers as they bring relief to the survivors of this flood," says Marco Franco Hernandez, team lead for the Mexican Red Cross, who is on his sixth relief deployment to the U.S.
“It’s a great partnership between our two sister societies dating back over a decade,” explains Roberto Baltodano. “When the Mexican Red Cross sends volunteers to our disaster operations, we not only get people who speak the language, but who understand the culture—especially the fears people may have in seeking assistance.”
As the flood response progressed, Pastor José Angel Wing invited the Red Cross to set up a registration event at his church, El Centro Bíblico de la Comunidad, to reach more Spanish-speaking families. “Our goal is to improve the lives of Hispanics in this community, to look out for our people,” Pastor José said.
Hundreds of people came to the event at El Centro Bíblico to register with the Red Cross, eat a Tex-Mex meal, and get a clean-up kit. Nearly half the families also checked in with a Red Cross nurse who addressed health concerns such high blood pressure, headaches, and rashes—which are common after floods in steamy climates—as well as some more serious issues such as diabetes and cancer.