|Hurricane Ike caused widespread damage in 2008.|
In preparation for writing this article, I did the usual Google search as a refresher and during my research stumbled across a number of news stories and interviews dating back to September of 2008 documenting Red Cross relief efforts. Five years after Ike’s destruction, I found myself fascinated by the Red Cross relief process, specifically its involvement even when the rain slows and the wind stops blowing – Red Cross brings a wave of hope before, during and after a disaster.
Before.Response begins well before a disaster strikes. In Ike’s case, disaster workers were deployed to safe area within close proximity to communities that may be affected. The workers pre-positioned relief supplies, including clean-up and comfort kits and emergency response vehicles, while aiding in evacuations and establishing shelter locations.
In DFW, Red Cross teams established safe shelters across the area, including at the Dallas Convention Center, which became home to some 6,000 people fleeing from the Texas coast.
|Photo Credit: Dallas Morning News|
During.For Hurricanes Gustav (which occurred simultaneously with Ike at one point) and Ike combined, Red Cross shelters provided more than 468,000 overnight shelter stays. Shelters are more than just a place to sit and wait it out. In addition to food, clothing and a safe place to stay, these havens also coordinate medical and mental health services.
After.With any unplanned weather event or disaster come learning’s. Growing local partnerships, better distribution of essential recovery items, and helping victims more easily access government and partner benefits were the areas Red Cross carefully examined to improve effectiveness post Ike. Five years after Texas’ most costly hurricane, I feel more confident than ever knowing my friends and family in the great state of Texas, and across the U.S., are more protected than ever.
One way the Red Cross has grown in the five years since Hurricane Ike is in its use of technology. During Ike, the Red Cross didn't send a single tweet or post a single Facebook status update. Since then, social media platforms have become increasingly important in communicating during emergencies. In DFW, the Red Cross now actively recruits digital volunteers to help us get information out during disasters.
Socially savvy and interested in using your social presence to help your community? Learn more about how to become a digital volunteer. Apply online at RedCross.org/DFW and reference digital volunteer during the application process.