Today is the 3rd anniversary of one of the most destructive and devastating natural disasters in American history–Hurricane Katrina. At the time, the Red Cross deployed thousands of volunteers to the Gulf Coast to assist people with their immediate and long-term needs. I wasn’t involved with the Red Cross at the time, but to this day I hear the emotional stories that our volunteers who were part of the relief efforts can still tell so vividly. It makes me feel like I was there, amidst the wreckage and part of the action.
While many volunteers were deployed south to the areas hit, a lot remained here in Chicago to help the displaced people that came our way to seek refuge. It blows my mind to know we helped an additional 7,000 people in the wake of the disaster. To put it in perspective, our chapter typically assists around 5,000 disaster victims in a year!
Ironically, today we have disaster relief workers on stand-by as we prepare for the arrival of Hurricane Gustav and the possible path of destruction it may leave behind. I really hope history doesn’t repeat itself. But if it does, I rest assured that many Red Cross volunteers will be there to offer comfort and a helping hand. Who knows, I might even get to be a part of the action this time.
I’m one of the volunteers from the Greater Chicago Red Cross chapter sent to help in the south. I want everyone to know how much our shelters meant to the thousands (58,000 at last count) who sought refuge there. While at the shelter in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, I spoke with folks who still can’t return to their homes due to intense flood and tornado warnings–meaning these events are expected in 24 hours.Chicagoans have no idea what it means to forcefully have to leave your home not knowing where you are going to sleep or if you will have a home to return to. I can tell you this “exercise” is helping Southerners be in better shape for disasters. They are getting the hang of the drill. My hope is that you are watching the media coverage thinking about what you’d have to ready to leave your home. And recognize that the Red Cross is part of your readiness plan. Please make a donation. Anything that you can to help us continue helping these evacuees and the thousands more in line with three more hurricanes on their way. Maria Corral
Just to clarify, I am currently responding to Hurricane Gustav relief efforts.Maria Corral