published: Sunday, September 15, 2013
Red Cross provides more than you think
By ROD LEWIS
In 1886, Clara Barton traveled to Europe during the Franco-Prussian war, and became involved with an organization called the International Red Cross. When Barton returned to the States she founded the American Red Cross Nursing Service on Jan. 20, 1910. Since that time the Red Cross has become the largest privately funded humanitarian organization.
While many hear of the Red Cross providing relief during hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, tornadoes, and other disasters all over the world, they do not realize that the Red Cross is active wherever disasters occur, even if they don't make headlines.
In fact, recently, two Lake Placid families were helped by the Red Cross when flood waters invaded their homes. "Two families were being helped with food and lodging," said Erin Pagán director of communications for the American Red Cross Mid-Florida Region. "All of the Red Cross services are provided free of charge. The only requirement for help from the Red Cross is that it must be a disaster such as a wild fire, house fire, flood, or something similar."
There are several different methods to contact the Red Cross during or after an emergency, and if one cannot contact the Red Cross, the organization may even initiate the contact. Pagán mentioned the Disaster Action Team (DAT) that was in the area earlier this summer when the flooding was at its worst were in the area and monitored 10 additional homes that were affected by the flood and may have needed assistance. They did not, but it is nice to know it was available.
"The Red Cross also has a great relationship with the fire departments and emergency management, who may alert the Red Cross in times of crisis," Pagán said.
In addition to responding to emergencies, the Red Cross is also proactive and has lists of relevant information for emergencies listed on its website. There is also a place to register to let family members know that everyone is safe. One may access the Red Cross from a cell phone by pressing **Red Cross. There is even an app that pinpoints the closest shelter for phones that are GPS enabled.
The Red Cross is in many places because of the volunteers. "We need volunteers of all types from students to seniors," Pagán stated. "We need volunteers in many different areas, including disaster services, health and safety, fundraising, advocacy and even taking a class."
The Red Cross also provides counseling for adults and children who have gone through a disaster. In addition to mental health services, they also provide "professional nurses who can help with physical needs like prescriptions and other medications, hearing aids and glasses, little things that are needed, but lost during a crisis," said Pagán, and they provide it free of charge for those who need it.
The Red Cross may look different than it did in 1910, but the mission is still the same. It continues to help those in need. For more information about the Red Cross please call 863-386-4440 or visit www.redcross.org/mid-florida
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