Consider June 14 of this year when the call came in from Kiowa County Emergency Management Director Steve Grayson that about 30 people were being evacuated from their homes and would need shelter from the flood in Hobart.
Shirley Corrigan, director of the Southwest Oklahoma Chapter of the American Red Cross contacted Disaster Services Director John Valenzuela and a plan to help those people fell into place.
Through the shelter/service center at the First Baptist Church in Hobart, Red Cross Disaster Action Team members opened 27 cases, fed about 50 people and assisted 25 families, Corrigan said.
The teams also were on hand in Mountain View and Snyder, and the bill came to more than $13,000 for the three flood-hit areas.
Whether reimbursement from the nation Red Cross will be 100 percent is “questionable,” Corrigan said.
In all, for fiscal year 2007 ending June 30, the local Red Cross responded to 17 local disasters, including 16 residential fires and aided 44 individuals and families with emergency food, shelter and supplies.
Covering Jackson, Harmon, Greer and Kiowa counties, the local chapter is operated from offices at 905 N. Willard with one full time employee - Corrigan; a part-time employee, Valenzuela, who is “part time working full time,” Corrigan said, meaning 20 hours paid, 20 hours volunteer; and a part time office worker, Beverly Fuller, former vice president of First State Bank.
What makes it all possible is the 97 percent of the chapter's total workforce: volunteers - 284 of them in FY 2007.
“We can't do it by ourselves,” Valenzuela said.
Both Corrigan and Valenzuela stressed the need for volunteers, not just for disaster work but also for the many programs provided, among them presentations on services, health and safety, blood drives, Armed Forces emergency communications and instructors of first aid, CPR and child and infant CPR.
Corrigan said a special need is for volunteers interested in fund raising and reminds the community that the United Way, which was a major source of funding, folded in August 2006. “We depend solely on contributions and what fund raising we can come up with,” she said.
The next major fund-raising event for the local chapter is the Style Show set for Sept. 14 at the First United Methodist Church Family Life Center.
People expect the Red Cross to “be there,” when disaster threatens or strikes, Corrigan said, and the community is asked to help financially.
“You never know when a disaster is going to happen,” Corrigan said, adding that we are “long overdue” for one.
Valenzuela, always ready, at 2 a.m. or whenever, agreed: “I just think we all need to get together and pitch in and help out.”