This story is written by American Red Cross worker Dave Schrader, who is currently in Alabama to help with the Red Cross relief efforts.
NAACP disaster liaison Steve Branch meets with Red Cross volunteer John Manners of Tennessee at the American Red Cross Alabama tornado Disaster Operations Center to map out a plan to help people in tornado ravaged areas outside Birmingham, AL.
It’s 10 a.m. on Thursday, January 26th , just days after tornadoes tore through neighborhoods and communities surrounding Birmingham, Alabama and there’s nothing else Steve Branch wants to be doing than helping the American Red Cross help those in need. Branch, unfortunately, has seen his share of disasters, most recently as the head of the NAACP’s disaster response following the Tuscaloosa tornado less than a year earlier. Branch is helping again this year as part of a partnership the NAACP has with the American Red Cross, a partnership Branch values a great deal.
“The NAACP and the Red Cross serve as a bridge,” Branch says. “They are a bridge to bring people together to help each other.”
Branch says within 24 hours dozens of NAACP members from around Alabama will descend on Birmingham. Then in conjunction with the Red Cross, they will handle administrative and field work, including fanning out to the hardest hit areas to meet face to face with residents. Branch says the volunteers will be organized by expertise and then assigned to help where the needs are greatest.
“First and foremost, we are here to help,” Branch says. “But we also want to enlighten and educate residents about the kind of assistance the Red Cross provides and how to get it.”
The partnership the American Red Cross has with the NAACP is just one of many partnerships the Red Cross worked out long ago and is being put to good use here in Alabama.
The American Red Cross’ longstanding partnership with the Southern Baptist Convention is once again helping serve hundreds of meals to people who don’t have power or the means to cook their own meals.
The American Red Cross buys the food, the Southern Baptists then cook it up in a makeshift kitchen outside one of three shelters set up here, and then Red Cross volunteers load up the food in Emergency Response Vehicles and literally hand delivers it to people at their homes or in their neighborhoods.
Just like the American Red Cross cannot do what it does without the generous support of donations from the public, it also cannot do what it does without the many partnerships it has formed over the years. The American Red Cross is continually forming new relationships, like the one it has with Steve Branch and the NAACP, so it can continue to respond to disasters quickly, effectively, and efficiently.