By Krystal Smith, staff contributor, American Red Cross North Texas Region
On Sunday, October 20, as many were putting children to bed and making plans for the week ahead, nine tornadoes swept through the metroplex wrecking havoc across five counties, including parts of Dallas, Collin, Harrison, Panola and Van Zandt.
Immediately the American Red Cross, alongside government and community partners, jumped into action to aid those affected by the devastating storm.
For the Red Cross, this response meant mobilizing materials and people to assist those in need. Trained volunteers from across North Texas, who stand ready 24/7/365, converged on the Dallas area prepared to help provide shelter, food, water, clean-up and comfort items, health and disaster mental health services, spiritual care and more.
It total, more than 60 volunteers put their lives and other responsibilities aside to ensure the Red Cross could meet the needs of our neighbors.
Supplies, including snacks, water, tarps, work gloves, trash bags, dust masks and more, were distributed in impacted neighborhoods by Red Cross emergency response vehicles.
To date, the American Red Cross and community partners have distributed more than 5,600 meals and snacks and nearly 600 comfort and clean-up supplies.
In partnership with the City of Dallas, the Red Cross opened a Respite Center at Bachman Lake Recreation Center to provide people with refreshments and a safe place to rest.
Red Cross Disaster Assessment teams canvassed neighborhoods, noting damage to homes across the storm‘s footprint. Early estimates place the damage caused at more than $2 Billion.
Using innovative technology, the Red Cross has developed a mobile app to aid Disaster Assessment teams, making the process more efficient in an effort to deliver services as quickly as possible.
Using RC Collect, Disaster Assessment teams use their phones and geo-tagging to mark each home and the type of damage the home has suffered. Major damage is indicated by significant structural damage to a resident that requires extensive repairs. This may include substantial failure of the roof, walls or foundation. A residence that is destroyed is one that is a total loss or with damage so extensive that repairs is not feasible. Disaster Assessment workers can also designate if homes sustained minor damage or were affected by the storm.
This data is then automatically updated in our RC View program, a program that collects all pertinent disaster data, to help the Red Cross make actionable decisions to best meet community needs.
As Disaster Assessment takes place in the days following a disaster, the Red Cross and community partners distribute food, water, comfort and clean-up supplies, and determine the best ways to help the community start to recover.
Disaster relief requires a large network of people and organizations to ensure the communities and individuals receive the help they need after a disaster. The Red Cross is one member of a broader disaster response community that includes local, state and, in some cases, federal entities.
No response is possible without the generosity of our donors and the dedication of our volunteers. To learn how you can support Red Cross disaster relief efforts big and small visit www.redcross.org.