“There are so many folks depending on our help. It really feels good to get the job done.”
This sentiment, expressed by Red Cross Volunteer Kathy Cheaham, exemplifies that “can do” attitude that is typical of most Red Cross Volunteers. Kathy and her husband, Bob, drove their chapter’s emergency response vehicle (ERV) from Abilene, Tx. when the call for help sounded from the Baton Rouge, La. area after Sunday’s disastrous flooding.
But sometimes, unforeseen obstacles can complicate the mission. This kind of challenge is just what Kathy and Bob faced when, while driving the ERV to bring hot meals and water to residents in Denham Springs, just outside of Baton Rouge, they found themselves stuck in soft sand.
The accident occurred while trying to avoid a flood-damaged vehicle abandoned in the middle of the road leading into the neighborhood they were going to serve. “The road and shoulder appeared dry, but when we drove around, the pavement shifted and gave way,” Kathy explained. “Then, it just sank.”
It would be some time before help arrived, but the need to deliver those meals and cold water weighed heavily upon the Cheahams. They could see the homes they needed to reach, but someone had to stay with the vehicle and wait for help. Kathy Cheaham started walking, and with another Red Cross volunteer, went door-to-door asking residents if they would like a hot meal, water and snacks.
“Many people were not home, and many of those that did greet us at the door used walkers or canes. There was an elderly population living here that we were not aware of,” Kathy recalls. “Some needed their prescriptions filled, and some just needed information. They were so happy and grateful that someone was checking on them and offering help.”
Kathy loaded up on meals and water and carried them to the hungry residents. While Kathy was delivering the meals, a second ERV was dispatched to the scene. Once on site, the meal load was divided up so delivery could continue in a timely manner.
The Cheaham’s resilience shows just how far Red Cross volunteers will go to reach those communities that need it most.
Photo by Michele Maki: Red Cross Volunteer Kathy Cheaham carries hot meals into a Denham Springs neighborhood