April 16, 2020–6:49 a.m.
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the American Red Cross has mounted a statewide response to help those affected by the recent tornados and storms, providing a place to stay, warm meals, clothing and other needs to hundreds of Georgians.
Those affected who haven’t talked to a Red Cross representative are urged to call 1-855-891-7325 around the clock.
“Call us if you need help,” said disaster response director Bob Sheldon. “Our response may look different but we’re meeting the same needs across 40 counties so far.”
He added, “We’re giving help and hope – just not the hugs.”
Red Cross workers are following public health guidelines for the pandemic, including wearing masks and making contactless deliveries of meals to commercial lodging where people are staying across the state, rather than a RedCross shelter.
While there might be fewer team members out in the community, they are backed by many more working from their phones and computers at home.
Health services, mental health, and spiritual care are also being offered, though sometimes by video chat.
More than 700 households needing help have been identified.
Already, Sheldon said, the operation has assembled a virtual casework team from volunteers across the state to start working with each family to build a recovery plan that ensures those affected have a path to getting back to normal.
Red Cross meeting needs across the state
Sheldon said the largest focus currently for lodging and meals is in the northwestern part of the state, focusing on Catoosa, Chattooga, Walker, Dade, Whitfield, and Murray counties. Additionally, the Red Cross is working with individual families on lodging and meals in northeastern Georgia in Banks, Hall, and Stephens Counties.
“In the central and southern portions of Georgia we are providing lodging and meals in Burke, Washington, Sumter, Coffee, Wayne, and Upson counties,” he continued.“Throughout the rest of the state, we’re working individually with families and those affected to meet their immediate needs following the storms.”
How you can help
The Red Cross depends on financial donations to be able to provide disaster relief immediately. You can help people affected by disasters like storms and countless other crises by making a gift to Red Cross Disaster Relief. Your gift enables the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters big and small. Visit redcross.org, call 1-800-RED-CROSS or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.
(Please note: While we understand people want to help, during the pandemic the Red Cross is not accepting unsolicited donations of material goods due to the health risks of handling and sanitizing them.)