Thursday, May 15, 2014

Volunteer Dan Barrios Reflects on One Year Since Granbury Tornado Outbreak

by Heather Wedel, Communications Specialist, American Red Cross North Texas Region


One year since the Granbury, TX tornado outbreak, volunteer Dan Barrios reflects on his experience as the shelter supervisor in Cleburne and Granbury, TX. 

On May 15 through May 17, 2013, a storm produced a total of 26 tornadoes touching down across four states. The strongest of these was an EF4 tornado which hit Hood County, TX, causing six deaths. That night, volunteer Dan Barrios remembers receiving a call from the Red Cross disaster services manager asking him to head to Ft. Worth to get instructions for a sheltering assignment. 

When asking Dan what first runs through his mind when he gets a call for deployment, he said, "First, I obviously think about my family, make sure they're okay and taken care of. Then I immediately drop everything and head to where I'm deployed. On my way there, I start thinking about the logistics in opening a shelter. With the Red Cross, you're provided so many training sessions that it all kind of kicks in."

On the night of May 15th, Dan headed to Cleburne, TX to begin opening the shelter for those affected by the tornadoes. He remembers having to find additional routes there, with the roads being blocked due to floods from the storm. Once he arrived in Cleburne, Dan worked a 20 hour shift, serving the community by opening a shelter. After his shift, he spent the night in a local hotel, and the next day was deployed to open another shelter in Granbury, TX, where the storm impacted the community the most. 

"I was actually in three different shelters in four days," Dan recalls. "I started in Cleburne, opened a shelter. Went to Granbury, opened a shelter. And then I went home for one day. The very next day, the storm hit in Moore, OK. I actually helped in opening the first shelter in Moore as well."

"I think the first time you see a shelter, you get a sense of how people need the help. They need somebody that can go in, control the situation and help provide what they need," said Dan. "People arrive in all different situations. There is a lot of uncertainty in those times and those affected are under a lot of stress."

Dan still remembers the folks he encountered in the Granbury shelter. "A man came in the shelter whose two kids were in the hospital and were severely injured by the storms. He didn't know what to do, he was walking like a zombie, in a state of shock," recalled Dan. "I was able to translate, speak some Spanish and guide him through the process of recovery. To help someone like that is truly a great feeling." 

One of the most remarkable situations Dan witnessed was when a family entered the Granbury shelter in need of feeding tubes for their daughter. The Red Cross nurses were able to work with the local fire department to go back into the families neighborhood to get her feeding tubes. 

"With the people you see, it produces memories you'll never forget," states Dan. "The work I do with the Red Cross is with the people. It breaks my heart to see what storms can do. I think about the anniversary of Granbury, and those people are still in my heart. I hope they're on a good road to recovery. No matter what impact I made, little or big, I hope I was able to be a positive force in their lives."

One thing in particular stood out to Dan about Hood County, TX: the community. "I remember the outpouring of the community, they really wanted to help. Not all community's have that, but this community really did. Everybody in those towns wanted to help," said Dan.
Dan along with his wife and son

Dan has been a volunteer with the Red Cross since Spring 2010 serving as a shelter supervisor, training instructor, community events team member, and even answers the phones from time to time. Professionally, Dan is a Sales Director and resides in Richardson, TX with his wife and son. 

As we remember the tornado outbreak last year, we continue to salute volunteers like Dan, and are thankful for their dedication and time. Red Cross disaster action teams (DAT) take on-call shifts to respond to emergencies in their local community 24/7/365. Here in North Texas, the Red Cross responds to about six home fires or other local disaster every day. Join Dan in serving our community by visiting, RedCross.org

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