Red Crossers gathered at the American Red Cross in Fairfield on Sunday morning to wish safe travels to Bill Ulrich of Whippany and Billy McPhail of Rockaway as they jumped in a Red Cross emergency response vehicle and headed south to Louisiana to join relief efforts following unprecedented flooding impacting more than half the state.
“Helping out people is what we’re here for and I’m looking forward to that,” said Billy as he loaded relief supplies and his luggage into the emergency response vehicle.
The emergency response vehicle will join the nearly 100 Red Cross response vehicles that are fanning through affected neighborhoods to distribute food, water and relief supplies.
Billy says he’s excited to join the more than 2,900 Red Cross workers who have been tirelessly supporting relief efforts since the flooding began.
“I remember volunteering during other disasters in Jersey and the feeling I got seeing how people really appreciate our help and us being there,” Billy recalled. “It’s amazing.”
To date, 36 Red Cross workers have joined the massive disaster response with additional volunteers signing on to help every day. Twenty-one trained Red Cross workers from New Jersey have deployed to Louisiana to help on the ground working at shelters, distributing meals and disaster relief supplies, and providing health services and emotional support. Others are serving as virtual volunteers, aiding the disaster relief operation in Louisiana from their homes in New Jersey by handling calls from the disaster hotline and helping with case work for Louisiana families.
“New Jersey Red Cross volunteers are no strangers to flooding and the hardships that those affected in Louisiana are facing,” said Ana Montero, CEO, American Red Cross New Jersey Region. “Louisiana Red Cross workers volunteered to help us here in New Jersey following Superstorm Sandy and we are fortunate to return that compassion by helping the people of Louisiana on a path toward recovery.”
As of Monday, the Red Cross and partners have provided the following services:
- Served more than 611,000 meals and snacks.
- Distributed more than 305,000 relief items.
- Provided more than 60,000 overnight stays in emergency shelters.
- Handled more than 28,000 calls from people seeking information and help.
- Provided more than 18,000 health services and emotional support contacts.
“It just warms your heart knowing that you’re helping people,” said Billy.
As Bill and Billy left New Jersey for Louisiana Sunday morning, a group of volunteers participated in an emergency response vehicle training course where they learned how to operate the vehicle so they will be ready should additional drivers be needed for relief efforts in Louisiana or future disasters.
“I just completed the ERV training a few months ago and now I’m heading out,” said Billy. “The training has been excellent all through my career with the Red Cross. They’ve given me everything I need to know.”
View news clips from some of the stations that joined us to see Billy and Bill off to Louisiana.
BECOME A VIRTUAL VOLUNTEER The Red Cross is looking for virtual disaster case workers to help with the response in Louisiana and future disasters. This role can be fulfilled from the convenience of the volunteer’s home or a Red Cross office in New Jersey. Those interested can go to redcross.org/Volunteer and select DCS Disaster Cycle Services Virtual Case Worker to get started. For more information, please contact: Volunteerservicesnj@redcross.org.