June 14, 2007
Reported by: Britney Glaser
Help wanted! That's the plea that the Southwest Louisiana Chapter of the American Red Cross is making to the public. Currently, there is a major shortage of trained volunteers to assist in the event of a disaster.
From house fires to hurricanes - even severe weather like we saw hit our area last week - the American Red Cross is there to help people pick up the pieces when disaster strikes. Sherry Royer has worked with the Red Cross in disasters like Hurricane Katrina. She says, "It could be something as simple as a local threat that we help with or it could be a national emergency like 9/11."
It only takes two hours to become a certified volunteer with the American Red Cross, but still, our local chapter is seeing only a small number of people willing to lend a helping hand. While agencies like the Department of Social Services require their employees to train for disaster assistance, classes like one held this week for shelter operations aren't filling up with volunteers.
Martin Ceasar has helped with registration in emergency shelters as well as overall shelter operations in recent disasters. He says training before disaster strikes is imperative. "It's something that you don't do on a daily basis," says Ceasar, "and you would need the training so that in those moments that you might know what to do and how to handle the situation and meeting their needs."
Joanie Farque is the volunteer trainer with SWLA American Red Cross and she says all it takes to help people through some of their worst times is a kind heart and a willingness to be there. "We're looking for them to be available to do single-family fires," says Farque, "to get trained to be on a Disaster Action Team that goes out in the middle of the night to help these people. Someone with a loving, caring heart."