Lida McDaniel is an AmeriCorps volunteer in our Greater Chicago Red Cross Disaster Services department. This was a busy weekend, with 15 responses in total including 10 incidents where 79 disaster victims in total needed our help. Lida responded to two home fires this weekend, including one in Englewood that made an impression on her about the strength and vulnerability of the people we serve.
When Lida arrived on the scene in her Red Cross vest, the firefighters had already left and the displaced families were standing on a neighbor’s front porch. “They were all crying and very upset,” Lida said. They had fled their house without coats or shoes, so their neighbors had lent them some clothing. When they saw the Red Cross, “They were really appreciative,” Lida said. “They said ‘Thank you so much for coming out here.’ They really didn’t have any other resources.”
One woman made a strong impression on Lida because of her strength and humor amid the destruction of her home. “She was crying, but cracking jokes,” Lida said. Another woman, however, was not taking things well at all. Lida put in a call to our mental health team to do a follow up with her in the coming days. The Red Cross gave these local disaster victims immediate relief for food, clothing and shelter.
Lida says that she enjoys working with the Red Cross to help local disaster victims, especially in communities where people are already struggling to get by. “I go to fires where people are already in a really bad spot, but then we’re there to give them something tangible. Now they know, at least, that their next couple days are covered.” Lida and our Red Cross team also follow up with clients and give referrals to long-term care agencies. “It’s great to be able to give them more options to help out,” she said.
To learn more about how you can help disaster victims like these this holiday season, visit www.chicagoredcross.org/holiday.