Sometimes, the Red Cross is in the limelight, like when we’re opening shelters and driving through disaster-devastated neighborhoods delivering hot meals, supplies and hugs. And sometimes the Red Cross is working quietly in the background, kicking in support in ways that you might not think of.
Porta-potties and refuse fees, for example.
As one children’s author so astutely pointed out, everybody p… well, you know. We know it, too. So when the Little Thompson River Coalition, UMCOR and Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado (VOC) organized a recent volunteer clean-up day to remove flood debris in Weld County, one way the Red Cross supported the effort was to pay for portable toilets to ensure the comfort and health of the volunteers. (We also chipped in tools and funding to keep the heavy machinery going.)
|Taking care of basic needs. It's what we do.|
Other behind-the-scenes efforts focus on junk: making it easier for flood-affected residents to get rid of the tons of refuse and debris that were washed downstream during September’s floods. On June 28, a river clean-up day was planned by Larimer County Long Term Recovery Group, UMCOR and VOC, this time along the Little Thompson where it flows through Loveland. All that junk has to go somewhere – some could be recycled, but the rest went to a dump.
|The September, 2013, floods created literally tons of debris|
that must be cleaned up and hauled away,
like the pile in the background of this photo.
Waste doesn’t magically disappear; it comes with a price that we often don’t think about when considering “disaster costs.” That cost, in Larimer County, is about $50 per ton. So, to defray the cost to the community, the Red Cross paid for all waste disposal fees from the clean-up day.
In flood-affected Estes Park, the Red Cross paid for rollout dumpsters for a similar clean-up project.
“Porta-potties, dumpsters and junk yards aren’t very glamorous aspects of disaster recovery, but they’re a very real need and a very real cost for communities that are still recovering from the floods,” said Sabrina Amon, Disaster Recovery Manager for the Red Cross of Colorado. “At the Red Cross, we look at the full picture and seek to find those unmet needs that we can fill; we’re removing road blocks to recovery.”
Amon paused, raised an eyebrow, and added, “Well. We’re removing nastier stuff than road blocks. But the point is: we’re contributing to getting rid of the bad stuff so these communities can focus on moving forward with their lives. And we’re pretty proud of that.”