Gilmer Free Press
Red Cross Response Impacted by Widespread Nature of Storm
The American Red Cross is becoming more and more visible in West Virginia in storm recovery efforts after getting a slower start than normal.
Red Cross spokesperson Debra Palmer says there are now close to 300 volunteers with 26 emergency response vehicles, two portable kitchens and 79 shelters.
Some county emergency officials have criticized the agency’s response.
Palmer says the response this week has very little to do with other Red Cross disaster efforts in places like Colorado and more to do with the widespread nature of the wind storm in West Virginia and surrounding states.
“A lot of us are from West Virginia,“ Palmer said. “We weren’t able to respond to anything because we couldn’t get to our own houses, we couldn’t get to our own offices. We had no clothes. We had no water. We had no food.“
Palmer says it’s not just one county or even one state hit by this storm. She says the Red Cross usually draws volunteers from surrounding states but hasn’t been able to do that with this storm.
“We drill for these things all of the time, but no one, I don’t think, in the past has ever coordinated a plan for, ‘What if your four states and the District of Columbia that normally help you can’t help you?‘“ Palmer said.
The Red Cross is taking spontaneous volunteers in West Virginia. Palmer says a minimal amount of training is required. She says the agency’s efforts will increase every day until the recovery efforts are completed.