Partners in Relief: A Visit to The Red Cross in US Virgin Islands

Partners in Relief: A Visit to The Red Cross in US Virgin Islands
“It’s not every day you get the opportunity to see the operations of another Red Cross across the globe.” -Sean Coffman, Minn-Kota Territory Disaster Program Manager.

Sometimes members of the American Red Cross just can’t help themselves, even while on vacation. While visiting the US Virgin Islands in February, Minn-Kota Territory Disaster Program Manager, Sean Coffman, and Disaster Action Team volunteer, Sonya Jensen, met with Marla Matthew, the Disaster Program Manager for the Red Cross in the US Virgin Islands.

“It was cool to go and visit the Red Cross office there,” Coffman said. “It’s not every day you get the opportunity to see the operations of another Red Cross across the globe.”

While the Dakota’s Region of the Red Cross is preparing for spring flooding, the US Virgin Islands’ Red Cross spends six months out of the year preparing for hurricane season.

Matthew’s territory covers about 100,000 people on four islands, including St. Croix, St. John, St. Thomas and Water Island. Reliance on wireless communication as well as volunteers located on the island is strong because of its remoteness.

While enjoying the warm weather, Coffman and Jensen realized the similarities between the offices and operations.

“They even had a nearly identical (Emergency Response Vehicle),” Coffman said. “Although the island had a population smaller than that of Fargo, the operations still required effective communication and a strong network of volunteers.”

The Red Cross effort is larger than many may think. National Red Cross and Red Crescent organizations are active on a global scale spread throughout 185 national societies in more than 80 countries.