Since the beginning of September the American Red Cross of Alaska has provided some form of assistance to nearly 300 people from across the state. Nearly 250 of these were affected by the series of September storms which forced many from their homes and into the homes of family and friends and Red Cross Shelters. 32 volunteers and seven staff members from around the state worked tirelessly to assure that those who were affected by the storms had their immediate emergency needs met with places to sleep, food in their stomachs, and clothing on their backs. Not since 2006 had Alaska endured a series of storms that affected so many people.
Disasters were not limited to the storms. The Red Cross responded to another 15 incidents from Gambell to Kasilof which drove another 45 from their homes during the same period. The combination of these events stretched the resources of the Red Cross and it would not have been able to respond in the way it did without its partners from the State Division of Emergency Management, the Kenai Peninsula and Mat-Su Boroughs, and the many towns and cities like Seward and Wasilla all of which opened the doors to their facilities for sheltering and mutually worked to address the needs of their citizens.
While the Red Cross works hard to meet immediate needs it can only do so much and it takes partners to assist those affected as they move towards restoring what they have lost. In the Mat-Su Valley, the Salvation Army was there to prepare meals for many of those being sheltered. The Red Cross Anchorage Headquarters was in full swing working with Grainger to acquire clean-up kits and seeking donations from Lowe’s, Home Depot, and Holland America Princess to complete and deliver these kits to the sites in Seward and the Mat-Su Valley that needed them most. Team Rubicon, Adventist Community Services, Catholic Charities USA and Catholic Social Services – Anchorage, World Renew, Church World Service, Mennonite Disaster Services, Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, United Methodist Committee on Relief and numerous local faith based organizations have all stepped forward to assist clients with their special needs.
The American Red Cross is the nation’s lead non-profit response organization but is not a governmental agency. It depends on donations to carry out the job it does. All disaster assistance is provided free of charge to the individuals and communities that need help. It would not have been able to provide for the needs of those affected by the latest September storms if it hadn’t been for the generosity of Alaskans from small groups like the Palmer Junior High Middle School to individuals from all over the state and country who contributed to allowing the Red Cross to provide assistance to those affected by disaster.
I thank all who gave for caring.
David D Williams
Red Cross Disaster Volunteer