May 5, 2020–6:00 a.m.
As if the challenges of a coronavirus pandemic weren’t enough, some 200 Georgia families are also recovering from several rounds of severe weather in April, with support from the Red Cross.
While the statewide relief operation that began Easter weekend to respond to deadly tornadoes, widespread storm damage, and isolated flooding will be wrapping up this week, the Red Cross will continue to be there for residents and communities getting back on their feet.
Anyone with disaster-caused, emergency needs can still speak with the Red Cross at 1-800-RedCross (1-800-733-2767).
“Because of the coronavirus pandemic and public health guidelines, our disaster response looked a little different this time,” said operation director Ron Baughman.“About seventy-five percent of our workforce was virtual, and we housed and fed people in hotels instead of traditional shelters to promote social distancing.”
According to Baughman, while the 120-plus Georgia volunteers on the job may have been less visible to the public, they safely and creatively took care of clients and delivered the same, critical mission services the Red Cross always provides, despite new challenges.
Red Cross Disaster Relief Highlights:
- Damage Assessment: Teamsassessed damage to homes and helped identify emergency needs in 51 counties; their combined travel on one day equaled the distance between Atlanta and Seattle. Volunteers reported 288homes destroyed or with major damage, opening the door for Red Cross and partner assistance.
- Food and Shelter: At its a three-week peak, the Red Cross sheltered 205 displaced people in hotels and utilized 40 different hotels statewide to lodge them. More than 4600restaurant meals were packaged and delivered to hotel rooms; bagged breakfasts and snacks were also available from Red Cross volunteers at the scene.
- Casework and Direct Services: Caseworkers connected virtually with 200 families – more than 620 people – to discuss their emergency needs and provide resources, referrals, and assistance with recovery plans. Health, Mental Health, and Spiritual Care volunteers made 420 contacts to help with replacement glasses and prescriptions, emotional support, coping skills, and other essentials.
“Our Recovery staff worked virtually while sheltering in place in their homes… the compassion and caring that we usually express with hugs and smiles had to be conveyed through telephone calls, texts and emails,” said Kathleen Innes, who led the all-volunteer recovery team of 15 caseworkers. “We could hear the emotion in the voices of our clients who were also struggling with the COVID-19 environment and worked to overcome each obstacle to finding a path forward.”
- Integrated Care Condolence Team (ICCT): Seven volunteer professionals in the fields of health, mental health, spiritual care, and social services also worked as a virtual team to reach out to the surviving family members of 9 people who died during April’s severe weather. Families, who were devastated by human and material losses were also dealing with COVID-19 restrictions around planning funerals and memorials and were grateful for the compassionate support of the Red Cross.
“Even such things as acknowledging that it’s ok to grieve the loss of a beloved pet makes a difference in how people can be helped to move forward,” said ICCT lead Shirley Rawlins, a nurse, and longtime disaster volunteer.
- Emergency Supplies: Nearly 200 households received emergency supplies such as tarps, work gloves, trash bags, and other items to help with clean-up and repairs.
- Emergency Partners: The Red Cross aligned closely with government partners, providing liaisons for the State and 25 county Emergency Operation Centers. We also worked side-by-side with the Salvation Army and other volunteer organizations active in disaster, faith-based and non-profit groups, foundations, and the private sector to match people in need with partner resources.
How People 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.