Being “Red Cross Ready” means being prepared for any kind of inclement weather. You need to have supplies to weather the storm. What kind of storm depends largely on where you live and the time of year.
“Our chapter was starting to talk about getting ready for snow,” said Richard Strayves, from Phoenixville, Pa. “Then I got the call to come down to Florida.” He admitted it was a bit of thermal shock.
Strayves, on his first deployment as a Red Cross volunteer, was paired with Arthur Hopkins from Connecticut. Together, the two staff an Emergency Response Vehicle, an ERV, for the Red Cross relief effort after Hurricane Ian.
The ERV is filled with Cambros, large, insulated plastic containers that keep food warm. They drive their mobile feeding van into hard-hit areas where residents are cleaning up after the storm.
Hopkins described their assignment: “We look for a central area to open the doors. Then we sound our horn and announce from the PA, ‘free meals from the Red Cross.’ We fill the clamshells on-site. These people are working hard to clean up, so we make sure they have plenty to eat.”
A typical meal might be hot shredded chicken, tortillas, corn on the cob, and macaroni and cheese. And a beverage to stay hydrated. In times of great need, Budweiser converts some of its beer canning lines to canning water for the Red Cross to distribute.
Red Cross ERVs fan out across Florida twice a day to deliver free meals, prepared fresh in four large field kitchens. The Red Cross is providing more than 20,000 meals each day in the aftermath of Ian. Some of the meals are served at Red Cross shelters, but most go to communities where people are cleaning up.
“Some people are able to stay in their homes, but they can’t cook. They don’t have power. Or they don’t have water. Or many times they don’t have either, Strayves said. “And local restaurants can’t open because they don’t have power or water either.”
Scores of Red Cross volunteers from around the country, like Hopkins and Strayves, are filling that critical need.
American Red Cross relief is free to anyone with disaster-caused needs, thanks to the generosity of the American people. To become a trained disaster volunteer, go to redcross.org/volunteer or call 1-800-REDCROSS.
Written by Darrell Fuller, American Red Cross