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Has anyone ever done Red Cross Disaster Relief?
Old 09-21-2017, 02:53 AM   #1
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Has anyone ever done Red Cross Disaster Relief?

We are thinking of going to the US Virgin Islands to assist after the two Category 5 hurricanes Maria and Irma. Signed up for the Red Cross predeployment training but just wondering if anyone else has done this and how your experience was.
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Old 09-21-2017, 06:26 AM   #2
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Our church has a team trained to assist in emergencies. Last wee!, they left for Ft. Myers, FL.

Most Red Cross assistance is administered by church organizations--especially the Southern Baptist Church.
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Old 09-21-2017, 07:33 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scuba View Post
We are thinking of going to the US Virgin Islands to assist after the two Category 5 hurricanes Maria and Irma. Signed up for the Red Cross predeployment training but just wondering if anyone else has done this and how your experience was.
Bless you Scuba
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Old 09-21-2017, 08:34 AM   #4
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Old 09-21-2017, 08:40 AM   #5
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Not with the Red cross but with my church through an organization called helping hands.
Helped with hurrican Katrine in la.

Whew, very rewarding, very emotionally draining. would do it again in a heart beat.

Lasting impression: never underestimate the power of the human touch. I haven't followed the devastation on the islands but in general, folks who have been through a natural disaster are scared witless. their reality has been pulled up from underneath them. You will be their "port in the storm" so to speak.

if I had one piece of advice. hummmm bring athlete foot cream or spray. everything was wet, after Katrina. it was like I could never get my feet dry. I know it sounds silly but for me that was what I wanted more than any thing. go figure.
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Old 09-21-2017, 10:41 AM   #6
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A long time ago as a teen. Didn't have to travel, the disaster was all around us. Spent a week loading supplies into helicopters.
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Old 09-21-2017, 10:57 AM   #7
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Someone once threw me a bottle warm water and some over ripened bananas, right after 9/11. It was probably on the 12th or 13th(its all a blur). Someone said "what if this stuff is poisoned?" I said I hope it works fast cause this place sucks right now. We laughed and ate it, it was like a feast.


Then right in the middle of Broadway some told us take off those uniforms your all covered in ash/asbestos. LOL ,we stripped on Broadway and they threw us clean old used clothes. When I came home my wife said where did you get those clothes! I said I think someone broke into all of the Red Cross donate your clothes bins.

So good luck on the rescue mission, you have no idea what a knight in shining armor you will be.
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Old 09-21-2017, 03:07 PM   #8
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DW and I just returned from a couple weeks as Red Cross Emergency Response Vehicle drivers for Harvey. We were fortunate to be able to stay in a decent hotel and not sleep on the floor in a staff shelter. We enjoyed the experience of helping people in need. Pretty sure we would not enjoy sleeping on the floor.
We actually had to return early to Florida as we were right in the path of Irma and had to get home to install shutters and prepare for that storm.
The one thing you should understand about the Red Cross is that they are about 99% volunteers, even some of the manager/leader positions. They expect you to complete a sizable number of online/classroom courses prior to deploying and once you deploy they will use you until you say "uncle."
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Old 09-21-2017, 04:24 PM   #9
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I was a recipient of the Red Cross disaster assistance. Been a $ donor ever since.
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Old 09-21-2017, 04:41 PM   #10
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I've volunteered for Red Cross for 15 years. Mostly worked on local flooding and wildfire responses, and a lot of house and apartment fires. I did my first national deployment last February working in a shelter during the evacuations under the Oroville Dam in California.

It's always been a rewarding experience for me, but sometimes really tiring and draining, with long shifts and rough conditions. Sleeping on a cot in a staff shelter isn't for everyone, and the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico are going to be difficult conditions without power. But if I was available now, I'd be signing up during this difficult period.
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Old 09-22-2017, 02:24 AM   #11
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Thanks for the responses. We will definitely be without power & water and conditions will be hot & buggy. I'm allergic to tetanus shots so we will have to see if that will be a showstopper or if I can get an assignment where that isn't a big issue. My biggest concern is they told us even though DH & I are volunteering together, we might be assigned to different islands. Not crazy about separating for 3-6 weeks so hopefully we misunderstood this and even if we do different tasks, we can be assigned to the same shelter. They said men & women have to sleep separately too.

It's a little scary but we had such a great experience in the VI's on our recent retirement trip, we want to help the people get back on their feet after 2 catastrophic storms in such a short period of time.

Our training is Monday and they said they'll be deploying ASAP after that. Will let you know if/when we go.
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Old 09-22-2017, 01:57 PM   #12
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I'd be surprised if they separate you, unless you develop different specialties, which takes some time. But it's an unusual deployment. I've heard from friends that the staffing people are being very careful with medical and physical limitations. There is a pretty extensive list of gear to take, and some of the transport might be on foot carrying your stuff. I've added a lightweight inflatable pad and earplugs to my gear, getting decent sleep is important and not always easy.

It will be an interesting experience, for sure. People you assist really do appreciate your time and effort.
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Old 09-29-2017, 02:07 AM   #13
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We are taking the Emergency Response Vehicle class tomorrow. We aren't physically capable of doing heavy construction or debris removal work, and would enjoy bringing food & supplies to those who can't get to distribution points. Not sure yet if/when we will deploy.
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Old 09-15-2018, 01:51 PM   #14
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Iím resurrecting this old thread rather than starting new, since I benefited from reading the old posts.

Hurricane Florence has me thinking of volunteering for a Red Cross disaster response team. Maybe DH also (but I havenít asked him yet). I feel like we are some of the few people who could pick up and go where needed, having no jobs, pets, or dependents.

Follow-up questions to Scuba: did you deploy? Was the training appropriate (enough, but not onerous for the tasks you perform)? Are you allowed to say ďnoĒ to specific deployments without being bounced from the program?
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Old 09-15-2018, 02:18 PM   #15
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My local Red Cross chapter, and others close by (in the Pacific Northwest) are holding training sessions to recruit and train disaster response volunteers for deployment to the east coast. The training is about three hours. I'm assuming that the classes cover mostly the Sheltering function, since that is the big need in hurricane evacuation events. I'd suspect your local chapters are doing the same thing.



I've always felt adequately trained for the functions I've worked in over the years. You always have a supervisor to answer questions, and you learn most of what you need on the job. That being said, it takes some flexibility since assignments can change quickly.



You always have the choice of whether or not to accept an assignment. It's usually a two or three week commitment. I've just turned down a deployment to Florence because I'm traveling.


Longer term, there are opportunities to train in many functions depending on your preferences and skills.
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