When Hurricane Barry hit the Louisiana coast the American Red Cross sent hundreds of volunteers to help with the response and recovery efforts. Luckily, the storm did not have the impact that was predicted but there were still families that needed help.
Brian Waymire is a Red Cross of South Carolina Disaster volunteer from the Lowcountry Chapter and for his first ever deployment, he was sent to Louisiana to help in The Red Cross response.
“Everyone there said that every deployment is different and there are no two deployments the same,” said Waymire. “It was a very good deployment because I got to experience everything about deploying.”
Waymire was initially sent as a shelter worker but just as storms change, so did Waymire’s task.
He and others were asked to conduct damage assessments in some of the hardest hit neighborhoods. Waymire and other volunteers traveled to different pre-determined locations to provide relief when needed.
“We went around looking for damage or people. We would get out and talk to the people, give them some supplies. We had cases of water, we had some snacks,” said Waymire.
Despite the storm weakening as it made landfall, it still caused major damage.
“What we found was a single wide trailer where a tree had fallen on the home and sliced it right in half,” said Waymire. The group also found other damage. “There was this humongous tree. It must have been 4-5 feet in diameter that had fallen on the back of house. The back wall was crushed. They had it all tarped up.”
Volunteers like Brian and others spent time speaking with the families impacted as well as provided them with immediate needs. Waymire recalls one man they spoke with whose home had been destroyed.
“At the end of the process he was very appreciative and hugging all of us and saying, ‘God Bless you.’ It was moving to see a gentleman like that be happy with the American Red Cross,” said Waymire.
It wasn’t just impacted families that were helped. One day, Brian and another volunteer were asked to make meals for Red Cross workers and other volunteers.
“They gave us eight pounds of sausage to cut up and some beans and we were going to make some black beans and rice, and for the next hour or so we spent cutting up this sausage into quarter inch slices,” Waymire recalls. “We made this huge vat of black beans and rice.”
Brian was deployed for 14 days and during that time he kept a journal so that he could look back on his first deployment.
“That is when I would sit down at night and journal about the days happenings. It ended up being the 14 days and the 32 pages in in a small book,” Waymire explained.
It is volunteers like Brian that are called upon when a disaster strikes, and those volunteers are the reason The American Red Cross can fulfill its mission. In fact, 90% of all the organization’s humanitarian work is done by volunteers.
Want to learn more about how you can make a difference? Visit RedCross.org/volunteer.
“The Red Cross stands for giving back, volunteering and helping those in the community and those in need. During my two-week deployment, I did that every day. I was proud to put on the vest and represent the American Red Cross,” said Waymire.