SB Red Cross deploys volunteers to Houston, maintains local services

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Photo by Ricardo Tomboc: American Red Cross San Bernardino Chapter Volunteers from left: Hazel Hopkins (Community Events Lead), DeYon Allen (Executive Coordinator), Zoe Browning (Administrative Support Lead), and Patricia Smith (Chapter Duty Officer and Disaster Responder).

About 10 American Red Cross San Bernardino Chapter volunteers were deployed to Houston, Texas. The volunteers will assist in a variety of disaster recovery functions. Some went as Associates, which will perform basic duties as client caseworkers, shelter workers, Emergency Response Vehicle (ERV) drivers, and feeding. A few of the volunteers went in a capacity of lead Mass Care Supervisors and Managers, Social Media Specialists, and Disaster Services Technology (DST) experts.

Photo by Ricardo Tomboc: This group of Red Cross Disaster Volunteers opened and staffed the Evacuation Shelter at the Redlands Community Center last Saturday.

Deployments are about 2 weeks long, and a second deployment can be considered. The Los Angeles Red Cross Chapter Deployed about 100 volunteers as well. Some deployments have the volunteers work out of their own homes, remotely taking care of clients’ needs by telephone and computer.

On Wednesday, August 30, Grace Lee from Fontana, drove to the San Bernardino Red Cross Chapter to drop off a donation. Grace literally brought in a ceramic “piggy bank” that she fills up and donates to various charitable organizations throughout the year. On this day Grace chose to donate her monies to the people of Houston, Texas. Along with the money collected in her piggy bank, Grace gave an additional substantial financial gift.

As additional volunteers were being prepared for deployment to Houston, a large brush fire broke out in the City of Redlands. The Redlands Fire Department requested that the American Red Cross open an Evacuation Shelter at the Redlands Community Center. The Evacuation Shelter stayed open for two days and assisted clients’ needs, providing meals, snacks, beverages, and overnight stays. While the shelter was open, several people came to donate various items and services.

Unfortunately, many spontaneous volunteers had to be turned away, since the shelter was fully staffed. However, everyone was instructed to go on the internet to www.redcross.org to register as a volunteer and sign up for various classes, which would equip and train them for any future events. Registered, trained, and background-checked volunteers are eligible for future deployments, not only within our region and state, but nationwide.

Robert and Sally Beck from Redlands lived within the evacuated zone. They were running errands when the fire caused an evacuation of their neighborhood. They ended up staying at the shelter overnight.

One of the primary concerns of the American Red Cross is that the public be prepared for any future disasters. Disaster Preparation workshops are available to any community group that requests it. The Red Cross recommends that each person store enough food, medications and water for themselves and their pets to last at least one week. “One gallon of water per day, per person” is what everyone should have in their homes. It is strongly recommended to have a disaster kit at work and in your car.

For more information on becoming a volunteer, making a donation, or for information on Preparedness Presentations, please call the San Bernardino Chapter office at 909-888-1481, 909-260-4958, or go to www.redcross.org.


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