I went on my first disaster relief assignment for the Red Cross today! I started the training a couple of years ago, after Hurricane Katrina. I've half-expected to get a call to pack my bags and leave for somewhere across the country on short notice, but that hasn't happened. Although I've been on many church-sponsored disaster relief trips, I'd started wondering if I'd ever get to help right after the disaster. I finally got the chance - right in my own back yard.
A tornado hit High Point, N.C. last Sunday night and caused a lot of damage on just a few streets (and more in Davidson County). The e-mail for helpers came Thursday (I think the "regulars" must have been working this earlier in the week) and we all showed up this morning. I had trained for assessing damage, but not for casework, so I stayed with the relief van while several teams went out to offer help in the damaged neighborhoods. We admittedly had the easy job, just handing out water once in a while and taking reports from the teams.
The church there fed everybody and they're doing a great job. As a matter of fact, their parking lot was home base for several organizations. 'Nice to see everybody working together - some feeding, some repairing, some collecting clothes and necessities. We had a lot of people walk up and offer to volunteer. Some of them went into the church and may have been put to work, but we had to tell them what they told me years ago: you have to go through the training first.