Mon May 5, 2014
Utah Volunteers Respond To East Coast Tornado Disaster
Fourteen states have been affected by devastating tornados and flooding this week and nearly 1,900 trained Red Cross workers from across the country have been mobilized to assist. The Utah Region of the Red Cross has volunteers spanning areas hit most severely by the storms.
Stan Rosenzweig, a veteran volunteer with the Utah Region of Red Cross, is on the ground in Conway, AR where an estimated 500 homes were destroyed. He says that though life continues as normal for many, the lives of those affected have been turned upside down.
"Their pictures are gone, their records are gone, their lifelong memories are gone," said Rosenzweig.
There have been 12 fatalities reported in the Little Rock, AR area with many others injured, but Rosenzweig says spirit in the community is one of service and selflessness.
"The spirit in the community is extraordinary," said Rosenzweig. "People who lost their entire homes just shrugged their shoulders and immediately went to their next door neighbor to see if they could help them and try to help people who were injured."
Red Cross has set up a Multi-Agency Resource Center with various response agencies creating a "one-stop shop" where people can receive all the relief services they need.
Rosenzweig says relief efforts include cleaning, food preparation and dissemination, physical and financial assessments, and psychological services, which he believes are especially important for the children affected by the storm.
"I saw one boy yesterday and a mental health worker gave that boy a Mickey Mouse toy, and it was the only possession that kid has as of then and as of now. And his face was just, it was just amazing. You could see all the tension drain out of his face, you could see him feel so much more comfortable, that normalcy was on the horizon," said Rosenzweig.
Rosenzweig urges those in Utah to take advantage of tools available for disaster preparation and relief, including the free Red Cross App which offers information concerning where relief efforts are being held and emergency-preparedness information, even if internet isn’t working.
Early estimates report that 2,500 homes across eight states were destroyed or heavily damaged by tornadoes or floods since April 25.