Archive for Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Red Cross worker upset with efforts

September 14, 2005


A Lawrence Red Cross worker ordered to return home from Mississippi on Monday said she was upset because assistance wasn't being provided to a rural area near Gulfport, Miss.

Jill Powell, 51, also criticized the Red Cross, saying volunteers were being sent to work in areas devastated by Hurricane Katrina without adequate training.

"They are probably doing the best they can, but there is just so much chaos down there," Powell said. "They know now they were not prepared."

Moreover, Powell said, Red Cross volunteers are being sent to the region and then waiting as long as three days before receiving an assignment.

Powell was sent first to Montgomery, Ala., on Sept. 7 and then drove a supply truck to Gulfport, Miss. Powell said she was involved with food distribution in the region. She claimed food continued to be given out to people in Gulfport even though electricity had been restored and grocery stores had reopened.

Powell also said she learned about a rural area where residents had not received assistance and needed food. She became upset with her supervisor when nothing was done to immediately remedy the situation. Her supervisor then ordered her home and security escorted her to the airport, she said.

"It is utter, utter chaos down there," Powell said.

Powell said she thinks some Red Cross workers are being allowed to stay in the region too long.

"I think they become insensitive and they thought I became too sensitive," Powell said.

American Red Cross officials referred questions to Jane Blocher, executive director of the Douglas County Red Cross chapter. Blocher said she regretted Powell was upset. She said the first concern was always the care of clients, staff and volunteers.

"Sometimes an event of this magnitude is emotionally overwhelming to even our most experienced staff and volunteers," Blocher said, noting that this was Powell's first disaster assignment. "When we recognize that a volunteer is overwhelmed, we allow them the opportunity to leave their assignment and return home to be with their families."

Blocher said she wasn't going to try to answer the complaints Powell leveled against the Red Cross because she was not at Powell's work site. She did say, however, that none of the Douglas County volunteers sent to the Gulf Coast were lacking in the required training for their work. She said the other volunteers had said their experiences had been positive.

Powell was one of five Douglas County volunteers in the Gulf Coast area, Blocher said. Two more volunteers will be going in the next few days, she said.


Jamie Benvenutti 12 years, 7 months ago

Did anyone else happen to see JAY WOLFE CHEVROLET's insert in the paper today?

For those who missed it, here's what it said:

"We are FLOODED with more cars than ever before! BRACE YOURSELF for the...AFTERMATH event."

Apparently, the folks over at JAY WOLFE think it's just fine to capitalize off of the horrible tragedy of Katrina in order to sell their cars.

I, for one, find it detestable that anyone could make a mockery of the unimaginable suffering and loss of hundreds of thousands of American citizens.

The only decent thing to do in response to this deplorable advertisement would be a BOYCOTT. Maybe then JAY WOLFE will get the idea that the tactics they've used are unacceptable.

raine 12 years, 7 months ago

exactly why i don't trust the red cross.. they have been untrustworthy before and they are no better now.. better to give the money to the salvation army then to cast your pearls before swine..

bearded_gnome 12 years, 7 months ago

This worker, as depicted in the article, displays ignorance about disaster response!
if some one tells Ms. Volunteer that the Who's in Whoville have not gotten aid, then Ms. Volunteer cannot just scamper off there to give aid!
first, because the report may not be accurate. second , other aid may already be en route which ms. Volunteer does not know about.
third, and most important, the first response is not to throw aid at an impacted area. first, you need to assess for lifesaving immediate needs, survey damage, and assess human needs. once assessment has been made, then aid can be targetted appropriately. if you just throw aid, then you can cause more trouble than what you already have; you can get baby bottles being sent to senior centers.
I was dismayed at this entire article. some one from red cross should have had a talk with this well meaning volunteer.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.