• August 7, 2020

Coronavirus changes way Red Cross helps people - Odessa American: Local News

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Coronavirus changes way Red Cross helps people

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Posted: Thursday, July 30, 2020 4:23 pm

Hurricane season is in full session.

And it doesn’t care about pandemics.

That’s what makes this hurricane season all the more crucial, according to Tracy Austin, executive director of the American Red Cross, Permian Basin chapter.

“Because with COVID, we are having to change the way that we do things,” Austin said. “Congregate sheltering is what you’re used to seeing. But right now, it’s not ideal right now.”

Because of that, Austin says the American Red Cross is working with hotels, campsites and colleges to use dorms to make sure that people are safe.

But one thing they also need is volunteers.

She added that it’s a different process than what they are used to as they look for people to train and become Red Cross volunteers.

Those volunteers can help with staff shelter reception, registration, feeding, information collection and other vital tasks to help those they serve.

“Our region is 83 counties and we are tasked with recruiting 400 shelter workers and 300 health services team members because each shelter, whether it’s a hotel or a dorm or a congregate shelter will have to have health services team members, so someone who can identify COVID-19, who can create space that is appropriate if some does have COVID and someone that has that knowledge that can help drive that effort.”

The American Red Cross is asking everyone statewide who can train with them to get ready for hurricane season.

The American Red Cross is asking everyone across the state who can train with them to help get ready for this hurricane season. There are virtual opportunities for people to help, according to Austin.

“We do have some virtual opportunities for people to deploy,” Austin said. “There are ways to do that virtually. We really still need people on the ground, to greet people, to register them, to make sure that all of their medical needs are taken care of. That’s what we’re looking for.”

Hurricane Hanna recently made landfall across the southern Gulf Coast in Texas and Austin knows there will be more storms.

“We’re looking for people who want to volunteer, who want to help the people during this hurricane season,” Austin said. “It’s not an if but a when and we don’t know where a hurricane will hit, but if it hits in Texas, we want to have enough volunteers in the Gulf Coast region.”

To help train people, Austin said there will be a hurricane response team virtual fair from 4-5 p.m., Aug. 3 from the American Red Cross Central and South Texas Region.

“We’ll talk about what it’s like to deploy virtually and how the American Red Cross responds to disasters like hurricanes and what measures are taken to make sure everyone is safe,” Austin said.

Interested people can RSVP and learn more by going to www.tinyurl.com/hurricaneresponse and those who have questions can email CSTR@redcross.org.

“It’s really simple,” Austin said. “It’s about how you can help the American Red Cross and its mission. We’re always the people who are there to help and this is a session where people can listen to how they can help and what can they do and what roles there are to train for. Everything you have to do, you have to train with the Red Cross and it’s important to get those volunteers trained now because hurricane season goes well into October so we want to get people trained now so that we can call on them to help. Coming to this virtual fair can help people prepare for that.”

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