Tuesday, September 6, 2016

What Did You Do Over Labor Day Weekend?

By Bill Fortune

So, what did you do over the Labor Day weekend? Camping, travel, site seeing, or maybe just stayed home and spent time with family. Any number of possibilities come to mind for what some call the “last weekend of summer.”

Colorado volunteers Suzanne Faerber 
and Kenneth Harnett serving food in
 Louisiana. Photo American Red Cross
For many Red Cross volunteers the time was spent providing humanitarian services across the country, across the state or across town.

Around-the-clock disaster support continued in Louisiana just like it has been since the flooding began. As of Saturday, September 3, the Red Cross and our partners with the support of over 2600 volunteers have:

  • Served more than 857,000 meals and snacks
  • Distributed more than 541,000 relief items
  • Provided more than 68,000 overnight stays in emergency shelters 
  • Handled more than 31,000 calls from people seeking help
  • Provided nearly 29,000 health services and emotional support contacts

Red Cross volunteers manned shelters in Florida, Georgia and North Carolina in response to Hurricane Hermine. Shelter were opened South Dakota due to storm damage and in California due to wildfires. As of Tuesday morning there were nearly 2800 Red Cross disaster responders deployed across the country with 18 shelters open supporting nearly 1000 people.

Volunteer Rich Garcia makes a call for more supplies to
help people affected by flooding in Colorado Springs.
Photo Arnett Luce/American Red Cross
Colorado and Wyoming volunteers continued support for the Louisiana Flood recovery efforts and while some disaster responders came home, after weeks of deployment, many others remained and additional volunteers deployed. Since the flooding began we have deployed 35 people to Louisiana with another 11 deployed to support virtually. Eighteen responders have returned home and over the weekend three additional volunteers deployed.

Locally, disaster responders have been helping people affected by the Colorado Springs flood of August 29 with 10 volunteers working in the heavily affected areas. Case work was on going with 18 families contacted on Sunday. A total of 28 families have been helped along with support from some of our partners.

Volunteers responded to three home fires in Colorado over the weekend and one in Wyoming. In addition, the Red Cross mobile feeding vehicle was called out to support law enforcement and fire departments in Parker, CO.

Sunday our volunteers were placed on standby should there be a need for sheltering due to the Starwood Fire in Larimer County, Colorado. No shelters were opened but Red Cross staff and volunteers were ready to move into action if needed. Those numbers do not include the people who were involved with coordinating responses or those volunteers serving as on-call responders.

Why are our volunteers willing to be away from their families to help others in need? One volunteer summarized his feelings after returning from 14 days in Louisiana, "I saw many things both good and bad during my deployment. However, I kept my eyes on only one thing, the clientsI was truly blessed by the clients that were very poor and had lost everything but were helping each other! I would do it all over again in a heart beat!"

The American Red Cross is in need of volunteers in Colorado and Wyoming. If you are interested in helping as a disaster responder or to help in the “behind the scenes” support effort please go to our web site to begin the volunteer application process. Visit and click on VOLUNTEER. Can't volunteer? Consider donating to American Red Cross Disaster Relief at or by calling 800-REDCROSS.

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