Red Cross Takes Steps Now to Prepare for Hurricane Season at the Rachel Hodges Leadership Institute

Hurricane season has arrived!  As you prepare to safeguard your families it is important to plan for the worst and know and understand the resources that are available to you. 

It is also very important for the Red Cross to train and prepare to be ready to respond during hurricane season.  For that reason, the Red Cross, Francis Marion University and the Konduros Fishermen Fund hosted the inaugral Rachel Hodges Leadership Institute from May 19 -24, providing volunteers with a new perspective on disaster training and ensuring that everyone is prepared for the 2012 Hurricane Season. 

In total, over 350 volunteers and staff from 12 states traveled to Florence, SC to recieve training in specialized areas of disaster preparedness and response at the Intstitute. 

One of our training highlights was the Red Cross 53-foot mobile kitchen, the “Spirit of America.”  During the two-day “Disaster Kitchen Training” course, volunteers gained the opportunity to see first-hand how to manage mass feeding operations during large scale disasters.  The “Spirit of America” is a fully self-contained trailer, designed to daily produce 30,000 hot “home-style” meals within heavily impacted disaster areas.  Meals prepared in the unit can then be loaded onto mobile feeding trucks to be distributed to disaster victims throughout affected areas.

During the exercise, Red Cross volunteers cooked food donated thanks to Perdue and American Italian Pasta Company.  Once the 500 meals were prepared, the volunteers loaded them in mobile feeding trucks and delivered them to five fixed locations throughout the Pee Dee.

The hands on training was broken down in three key areas….

1.) cooking the meals 2.) packaging the meals 3.) loading the meals in our mobile feeing trucks 4.) delivering the meals to the community

Red Cross volunteers were up bright and early at 5 am to cook meals inside of the “Spirit of America”

Volunteers packaged 500 hot meals that morning.

Meals are placed into cambros and then loaded into mobile feeding trucks for distribution at five feeding sites.

Sonnoco Plant workers were among the many to receive a hot meal that early afternoon.

Click here if you would like to see more photos of the “Disaster Kitchen Training” excercise.

This week was filled with insightful learning opportunities. Volunteers and staff also participated in the annual South Carolina Hurricane Meeting and Excercise to prepare and practice emergency readiness and response plans.

In addition, President of Humanitarian Services for the National American Red Cross, Jerry DeFrancisco traveled from Washington, D.C. to deliver a keynote speech at the Institute Welcome Luncheon. DeFrancisco oversees operations of more than 1,200 Red Cross locations across the country and around the world.  He inspired attendees by sharing his personal experiences and the true values of what makes an outstanding, visionary leader. 

If you are interested in becoming a volunteer or signing up for Red Cross disaster training, please contact our Regional Volunteer Manager, Katharine.Stafford@redcross.org or call (803) 540-1242.

Thank you to all of the generous sponsors for making the Leadership Institute possible!

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