The American Red Cross is helping people across several states after catastrophic tornadoes touched down in the south last weekend. Numerous tornadoes were reported, destroying homes and leaving people without power.
In South Carolina, our teams have helped shelter over 240 people, serve over 1000 meals and snacks, and completed hundreds of damage assessments across the state.
During this coronavirus crisis when the nation is practicing social distancing, the Red Cross has new measures in place to deliver help to people in need while also following social distancing guidelines. Instead of opening shelters, we’re prioritizing individual hotel rooms or dormitory style rooms to make sure people have a safe place to stay if they can’t return home after a disaster.
Several of our volunteers are working at those hotels to make sure the needs of those impacted are met. However, some of the South Carolina volunteers were also personally impacted by these storms.
"The Red Cross is something bigger than I am. It's bigger than any of us," said Alfonso Dunbar, a Lowcountry volunteer.
Alfonso and Arlene Dunbar are both Red Cross volunteers who have been working at one of the hotels helping shelter those impacted. However, while they have been helping, they have also been dealing with damage to their own home.
"On one side of the house, it was all ripped up. I looked and saw shingles all over the place, then I walked back inside and noticed the water came through the ceiling and dripped all over the floor and it was wet," said Alfonso.
"We got up in the morning and the water was coming down. So, we put buckets there and try, you know, just improvise until we can get ours taken care of," said Arlene "Our home was damaged, but we are servants, so we would rather go out and help somebody else."
The couple has been working those impacted by providing meals and case work.
“We will stand with them," said Arlene. "Hold on. Help is on the way and just stay strong and be there for one another. All of us have been impacted by this storm, whether it was individually or collectively, we have all been impacted."
Teri Goodine is an Upstate volunteer and has been helping in a similar way in communities impacted in Oconee and Pickens County.
“Storms usually go around Seneca because the mountains protect us. I will never forget that morning,” Goodine said.
Goodine, like the Dunbar’s, had her home damaged by the storm. She says she is blessed that her and her family are safe and the damage to their home was not as bad as others. Since last Monday, she has been working with our teams to help those that were not as fortunate.
We are working with partners and local emergency management officials to determine what other help is needed.
DOWNLOAD APPS People can download the Red Cross Emergency App for instant access to weather alerts for their area and where loved ones live. Expert medical guidance and a hospital locator are included in the First Aid App in case travelers encounter any mishaps. Both apps are available to download for free in app stores or at redcross.org/apps.
HOW YOU CAN HELP You can help people affected by disasters like storms and countless other crises by making a gift to American Red Cross Disaster Relief. Your gift enables the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters big and small. Call, click, or text to give: visit redcross.org, call 1-800 RED CROSS or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.