“I keep my bag packed so I always have it ready with all my Red Cross t-shirts and my vest. I know what I’ll need [when I deploy],” said Marcia Tyrrell. Yesterday, May 25, Marcia left her Juno Beach home in Florida and headed to Los Angeles, California, to wait for the first available flight to Guam. It will be her 5th deployment since the beginning of 2023 and her 13th deployment since joining the Red Cross in 2010.
As soon as it is deemed safe to fly, Marcia and other Red Cross disaster workers will arrive in Guam to assist in the aftermath of Super Typhoon Mawar. On Wednesday, May 24, Typhoon Mawar passed over the U.S. territory of Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands as a Category 4 storm, packing winds of about 140 mph and drenching the region with more than 24 inches of rainfall. Destructive winds and a storm surge of up to 10 feet made this the strongest typhoon to hit Guam in two decades.
On the island, Marcia will assist the Disaster Service Technology (DST) team and help to set up Red Cross computers, printers, and other technology services. “I enjoy helping people and using the skills I have to help,” said Marcia. Certified as a ham radio operator, Marcia is equipped to set up satellites that will establish and open lines of communication if cell phone service is unavailable. Technology plays an essential role in the recovery process as caseworkers and damage assessment teams rely on tablets, phones, and applications to help individuals and families start on the road to recovery.
Since the beginning of the year, Marcia has deployed to four other Red Cross disaster relief operations. In January, she traveled to the West Coast to assist after severe weather brought heavy rain across California and the Southwest. In February, she provided on-site technical assistance at a shelter that housed over 100 residents displaced by a fire at the New World Condominiums in Miami Gardens, and in April, she deployed to Mississippi after deadly tornados swept across the South and Midwest. Most recently, she volunteered after the historic flooding in Broward County, Florida, which brought over 25 inches of rain and provided conditions for two short-lived tornadoes.
As disasters increase in frequency and intensity across the country and in Florida, Marcia is “proud to be a Red Crosser helping her community. The Red Cross can be really helpful because people don’t know where to go next [after a disaster].” Marcia emphasized that the volunteers who assist with sheltering and casework are “true heroes since they are directly helping people and getting them back on their feet.”
In preparation for landfall, 35 Red Cross responders and supplies were prepositioned in Guam to support immediate relief and recovery efforts. Additional volunteers will deploy to Guam and the Mariana Islands in the coming days to support the lifesaving mission of the Red Cross. You can help people affected by Typhoon Mawar in U.S. territories, including Guam, by making a financial donation. Financial donations enable the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters, big and small. Visit redcross.org, call 800-RED-CROSS, or text the word TYPHOON to 90999 to make a $10 donation.
Written by Stephanie Wesseling, American Red Cross Public Affairs