The Mamaroneck High School Red Cross Club’s most outstanding disaster response was during Hurricane Irene in August 2011. The American Red Cross established a large evacuation shelter at the high school due to fears of flooding and other storm damage.
Under my coordination as club president, the club provided 13 volunteers during the critical first two days and nights. As soon as we walked into the shelter, it was hectic. There were not enough volunteers to register the large number of clients that were streaming through the door. Club members quickly registered 100 and prevented those clients from having to stand out in the rain for an extended period of time. Not enough cots were set up for the ever growing number of clients. While half of the club was registering people, the other half was setting up cots and assigning clients to their appropriate dormitory area. On the second day, club members served meals and snacks to the clients. Clients, especially the children, were beginning to become restless. Over 40 children were running around creating a mess, so the club set up a children’s entertainment table with dozens of books and coloring books. The joy this brought to not only kids but their parents was noticeable and calmed the shelter’s atmosphere down.
The chapter’s Red Cross volunteers were spread thin. In describing the work of the club, both shelter managers said that, “It could not have been done without you.”
For more information on how to get your Red Cross club of youth program involved in Disaster Services, please visit here, and feel free to contact me with any questions or best practices.
– Eli Russ
American Red Cross National Youth Council