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Red Cross volunteers from SC assisting with disaster recovery in Texas

  • Monday, May 25, 2015

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C., — Since Friday, eight American Red Cross volunteers from South Carolina have stepped up to answer one of the largest calls for help in the past few years and are traveling to Texas to help with tornado and flood relief.

The Red Cross disaster services volunteers bring a variety of specialized disaster response skills to the team that is coming together from across the country to assist those impacted by the storms. Some of the work will include being part of a feeding crew on a Red Cross emergency response vehicle, managing parts of the overall disaster response, assessing the damage caused by the storms, conducting casework for impacted families, ensuring the operation has the IT support it needs through disaster service technology, and working within government operations.

“Helping the clients makes it all worthwhile,” said Joe Hawkins, a volunteer from the Upstate SC Chapter of the American Red Cross. Hawkins, who is departing for Texas on Monday, has been on 35 deployments to disaster relief operations across the country since becoming a volunteer with the Red Cross.

Texas was hit with multiple tornadoes, including one that caused heavy damage in the community of Van. Heavy rain has also caused flooding and forced people to leave their homes. Red Cross workers have shelters open and are distributing food and relief supplies as well as providing health services.

More rain and severe weather are expected this week, and the Red Cross is busy preparing for more while also continuing to provide the many families impacted across the state along the long journey toward recovery.

“We are glad that we can help our friends in Texas by sending some of our highly-trained disaster volunteers to assist with the relief operations,” said Louise Welch Williams, regional chief executive officer for the Palmetto SC Region of the American Red Cross. “It’s comforting to know that should we need assistance in South Carolina, there would also be Red Crossers from across the nation coming to assist us. That’s what we do.”

HOW TO HELP: To help people affected by these storms and other disasters big and small, donate at RedCross.org, call 1-800-REDCROSS or text REDCROSS to 90999.

PREPARE NOW FOR SEVERE WEATHER: The Red Cross is helping people in eight Midwest states after as many as 135 possible tornadoes moved through the region over the last several days, including Iowa. South Carolina is no stranger to damaging spring storms and now is the time to prepare.

The free Red Cross Emergency App makes it easy to prepare for severe weather by providing instant access to weather and emergency alerts, life-saving information and ways to contact family and friends in case an event occurs. The app covers 14 different types of disasters including tornadoes and flooding and lets users customize more than 35 emergency alerts for themselves and where loved ones live. The app contains preloaded content so users can access guidance from Red Cross experts even without mobile connectivity, and allows users to easily toggle between Spanish and English.

“Family Safe” is a unique feature that allows the app user to notify loved ones who are in an area affected by an emergency or disaster and find out if they are safe. The recipient can instantly see the alert details as well as specific “what to do now” steps, and then respond with either “I’m safe” or “I’m not safe.” This feature works even if the recipient has not downloaded the Emergency App.

The app is available in app stores by searching for the Red Cross Emergency or by going to redcross.org/apps.

If the power goes out, people should:

· Use flashlights instead of candles;

· Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible; and

· Make sure generators are placed outside the home and away from doors, windows and vents that could allow carbon monoxide to come indoors.

Additional safety tips on what to do before, during and after a variety of disasters and emergencies are located at redcross.org/prepare.

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 of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit www.redcross.org/sc or visit us on Twitter at @RedCrossSC

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