(Houston, TX -- August 18, 2016) -- The Greater Houston Area Chapter of the American Red Cross has created a virtual call center to help support the effort of answering thousands of call per day from flood-stricken Louisiana residents. More than 70 volunteers responded to the organization's call-out for assistance and took training on how to be as helpful as possible to those devasted by what is being called the worst natural disaster to strike the United States since Superstorm Sandy.
Neal Hardin, Red Cross Regional Recovery Lead and manager of the virtual call center, commented on the intensity of the phone calls since 6.9 trillion gallons of rain caused severe flooding in and around the Baton Rouge, Louisiana area. "Red Cross telephone lines are being inundated with an estimated 4,000 calls per day. These inquiries are from people who don't know where they will sleep or how they will eat", he said. "By offering to answer as many of these calls as we can, we are reducing response time for those in need while helping to lift as least some of the burden from those offering help on the ground."
Local Red Cross volunteers will be answering calls at virtual locations, such as their homes, as well as the Greater Houston Area Chapter Red Cross building. They will be able to quickly and compassionately guide callers on where they or their loved ones can find shelters and food near the flood-stricken areas, multi-agency resources center offering a variety of assistance and more. They will also provide contact information for the Federal Emergency management Agency and similar resources.
Volunteer Angelina Machimuthu is one of the 70 who raised her hand to make a difference. "It has been heartbreaking to see such tremendous need," she commented while adjusting her phone in preparation of incoming calls. "It's hard for me to watch the devastation on the news without doing something. This is my way of helping."
Hardin anticipates that the virtual call center, which began operating yesterday, will continue offering assistance for at least 14 more days if not more ans he's honored to lead the effort. "Louisiana Red Cross volunteers and staff were there for us this spring when we were helping people impacted by flooding in Houston and along the Texas Gulf coast. Now we want to be there for them," he said. "this is what the Red Cross is all about -- coming together to serve no matter where the need may be. It's the right thing to do."
About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity fo the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or cruzrojaamericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.