By: Sherry Williams Kidd | Twitter: @SSDispatch
Posted: Nov. 1, 2018 | 3:45 p.m.
VIRGINIA – When Hurricane Michael slammed onshore in the Florida panhandle, it had strengthened to a disastrous category 4 storm. Areas of Florida, such as Mexico Beach were devastated. As the storm progressed North, it lost strength, but was still packing a punch causing damage from water, wind, loss of electricity and telephone service, loss of drinking water since many rural residents depend on electricity for their well pumps, and the hurricane even spawned tornadoes in Central, Southside, and Western Virginia.
As it always has, the American Red Cross responded wherever it was needed, and they have had their resources stretched from one end of Virginia, and the East Coast, to the other. Many of the Virginia Capital Chapter Red Cross personnel were dispatched to Florida, and are still there assisting storm victims. The Virginia Capital Chapter of the Red Cross is comprised of offices in Richmond, Petersburg, Fort Lee, and Halifax. All areas of Central and Southside Virginia are serviced by these offices by request or by need.
“With any disaster, we reach out to the Emergency Management officials within each area and county to see if they need our assistance, and if so, exactly what they may need from us,” said Christy Carneal, American Red Cross, Virginia Region. “As a service responder, we know that the emergency management in each area best knows the unmet, disaster-caused, needs of their individual communities, and we come in at their request.”
Dorothy Freeman-Clinkscales, Sussex, and Arlene Jackson, Dinwiddie, volunteer their services by answering phones at NBC12’s Call 12 center to help the Red Cross’ fundraising efforts for storm victims. (American Red Cross)
A family in Prince George County was completely displaced during the storm. The American Red Cross, Virginia Capital Chapter, met with the family to provide emergency assistance that the family was able to use to obtain immediate lodging, food, and clothing until someone from their insurance company could arrive to provide further assistance. As is often the case with major storms, this can often be a lengthy wait.
For the areas just to the west of Central Virginia and the Tri-Cities, the American Red Cross, Virginia Capital Chapter, had a shelter opened in South Boston. This respite shelter has since closed. Red Cross worked with emergency management to open the respite center, where residents of the entire area and beyond, could come in to pick up snacks and water, use the shower, and charge cell phones and other devices. Red Cross also distributed clean-up kits in those areas, including at pick-up sites in both Charlotte County and Farmville. These kits contain supplies that residents would need to begin cleaning their homes if they had flooding or wind damage. The items provided were bleach, sponges, face masks, gloves, and more.
“At these sites, we have also been handing out shelf-stable, non-perishable, self-heating meals, because so many residents had no electricity,” said Carneal. “We also handed out bottled water and snacks. In the past couple of weeks, we have handed out hundreds and hundreds of these meals in Charlotte County and Farmville alone. We have also supported shelters and provided these meals and clean-up and recovery kits in Danville, Martinsville, and the City of Salem.”
A Red Cross team unloading recovery kit buckets in Charlotte County. (American Red Cross)
This has been a historic year for the American and Virginia Red Cross in responding to disasters and storms. Each storm that has impacted the coast has also impacted Virginia. The Virginia Red Cross has directly responded and provided assistance to areas impacted by Hurricane Michael in 20 cities and counties in Virginia alone. They also deployed 80 people to help after Hurricane Florence, and another 30 individuals to help after Hurricane Michael. As soon as some of the Red Cross personnel return home, they regroup, rest, and then get right back on a plane to go help with another storm. Those Red Cross personnel that do not deploy, are helping in our area and doing a host of extra duties to support all of the organization’s efforts.
Many residents in Central Virginia have pitched in to help out the Red Cross. A local television station, NBC 12, had a call-in during its evening newscast for those wishing to contribute to Red Cross and their efforts to help residents of Central Virginia adversely impacted by Hurricane Michael. People from right here in Central Virginia volunteered to man the call lines. Arlene Jackson, of Dinwiddie, Dorothy Freeman-Clinkscales, of Sussex, and Susie Clark, of Sussex, all volunteered their time to the Red Cross fundraising efforts. Susie Clark, Sussex, also went on to travel to Danville for several days to work as a caseworker in the Red Cross Recovery Center.
For additional information on the Virginia Capital Chapter of the American Red Cross, please email Christy Carneal at Christy.firstname.lastname@example.org, or telephone (804) 731-5682. If you are interested in volunteering with the Virginia Capital Chapter of the Red Cross, please join them at their volunteer orientation. This orientation will be held at 10 a.m., on Saturday, November 3, at their Petersburg office, located at 22 West Washington Street, Petersburg, 23803.
The American Red Cross, the Virginia Capital Chapter of Red Cross, and Virginia residents pulling together to help our neighbors. By anyone’s estimation, a pretty dynamic and unstoppable team.