American Red Cross volunteers have been at work since severe storms swept through the state on March 25.
However, those volunteers would like to work even harder.
“We are in Sumner County,” American Red Cross Director of Regional Communications Sherri McKinney said. “What we are doing is canvassing neighorhoods.”
The majority of the damage in Portland was near the Cook Road and Highway 259 area outside of the Portland city limits, in the northeastern portion of Portland.
Entering the Easter weekend, McKinney estimated that the American Red Cross was approximately 85-% completed in that canvassing task, which consists of going door to door in impacted areas to assist with the needs of impacted families.
“We’re not just providing financial assistance,” McKinney said. “We provide things like clean-up kits/ This could avoid a trip to the grocery store to get another box of trash bags. This could prevent a trip to Home Depot for shovels and rakes.
“You need a case of water, we’ll give you a case of water.”
Sumner County is one 10 counties that the Red Cross is providing relief to. Disaster responders are in those counties, some of which were impacted by the March 25 storms and others of which were impacted by flooding caused by heavy rain two days later.
However, the Red Cross wants area residents to know that they can provide assistance in more ways than people may realize.
“It’s the things that people don’t know about the Red Cross and don’t understand,” McKinney said. “We are there before a storm, during a storm and after a storm. We are there for recovery until the bitter end, from the first tile flying off of your roof to getting your health back.
“We even provide mental-health people to help.”
However, one of the greatest challenges for those Red Cross volunteers is finding the specific areas and residences where they can provide assistance.
“We really have to get people to call in and report,” McKinney said. “That’s the hard part … finding the location.
“We need folks to call the 1-800 number (1-800-733-2767) or go online (by visiting redcross.org) and select from get help. It’s up in the right-hand corner … to register their location and their need.”
In addition to providing emergency supplies in affected areas, the Red Cross has provided non-congregate sheltering and feeding in Davidson, Rutherford, Wilson and Sullivan counties.
“Our volunteers and staff are continuing to assess the needs of each community we are serving following these storms,” said Joel Sullivan, regional executive director for Red Cross of Tennessee. “We continue to work with our local partners and government officials to ensure that recovery services are provided to help folks get back on their feet as quickly as we can.”
Over the past two weeks, almost 100 volunteers in Tennessee have distributed more than 1,000 supply kits and have served more than 1,500 meals, with the assistance of community partners such as Cracker Barrel.
“The Red Cross is a private-funded organization,” McKinney said. “We work in partnership with our government, but we are not a government entity.
“People don’t realize we are 90% run by volunteers. Those are people who are willing to put their jobs on hold or whatever and pour their hearts out for the mission. The average age of our volunteers is 60. We are encouraging people to step forward and volunteer with the Red Cross, if you have an hour, if you have five hours or on the weekend.”