Red Cross volunteer Bruce Pobanz on ERV 1106 out of Brunswick, GA who is volunteering in Connecticut to help with Hurricane Irene relief efforts:
Labor Day is a holiday where many take some time to sit back and relax. That is unless you are one of the over 100,000 who live where I am in CT and still have no power.
Over half of the cities on the East side of the State of CT still have no power or very limited power. During this morning's meeting, we heard there are still 523 roads closed. Red Cross shelters are ramping down in areas where power is coming back. City leaders are working with the Red Cross and setting up what they call respite centers. These are places one can go to get a shower, charge your cell phone, get a meal and share in community news.
More than 80 new RED cross volunteers joined our headquarters in Middletown. Emergency food services, in which I have been working is slowly being converted over to bulk distribution. What that means is the Red Cross ERV's are still going out feeding but more and more, instead of driving around the two States of CT and RI, fixed distribution sites are being set up where not only can those affected by Hurricane Irene get food, ice and water but now we have more truck drivers and today I started offering shovels, gloves, flashlights, batteries, trash bags, Rubbermaid totes, clean up kits and a special Red Cross back pack filled with blankets, first aid kits, wind up battery free flashlight and radio, and many other items. These backpacks can be set aside in case of a future disaster as well as some of the items can be used now.
Today I was sent to a neighborhood in Plainville, CT that suffered major flooding. Here the community spirit of neighbor helping neighbor is alive and well. 42 homes suffered major damage in this three block area. All but one of them still has no power. Listening to the local radio and watching TV here, we here of many residents and local leaders publicly voicing their frustrations over the poor service and lack of communications from the local utility companies. The power companies are saying they are only responsible for the power pole, the line from the pole to the house and the meter that the line is attached to. All other equipment must be repaired by a contractor and me inspected before the power company will hook up the line to the house.
The one house in this neighborhood that has power is because the owners brother has a family member who is a contractor and this contractor came in from out of state to help his family. All the other neighbors are in a waiting pattern for a contractor to get to them or they do not have the money to hire a contractor so they are waiting for their insurance or FEMA to come with some money so a contractor can be hired and then their power hopefully will get turned on.
This trip the Atlanta, GA and my Brunswick, GA Red Cross crew delivered to this neighborhood. The family with power had contacted all the neighbors and they set up a one stop shopping distribution point in their driveway. Here we delivered MRE's, snacks, water, fresh fruit and those bulk distribution items I mentioned earlier. Seeing a need in this neighborhood, this family stepped in and decided to help their fellow neighbors. We at the Red cross were grateful and gladly helped in anyway we could.
To add insult to injury to some residents in this state, there is a cold front coming in tonight. Not only are they calling for possible temps to reach the upper 40's nearby but they are also calling for heavy rain tonight, most of tomorrow and possible major storms come Labor Day.
One thing the Red Cross disaster volunteers are doing here is keeping an eye on the gulf and along the East Coast. some volunteers have already checked out of this area and transferred to one of the shelters in New Orleans. This is my fifth disaster I have helped with this year alone. I'm not sure how any of us volunteers can keep doing it but while there is a need, the Red Cross and it's many Disaster Volunteers will keep doing all we can to help out our fellow man and woman in their hour of need. And remember we do this with the blessing and the financial support of the Great People of America. Thank you very much for your continued support of the American Red Cross.
I know my wife would love to come on these trips with me and help with disaster relief. She is a trained ERV driver too but now that she is using a walker, she can no longer do some of what I do. But even ay 64 and not in the best of health, she still donates a few hours in her local Red Cross chapter.
So PLEASE, if you can donate a few hours helping at your local Red Cross or can deploy for two weeks or so and help us other volunteers out in the field during disasters like this; we request that you contact your local chapter of the American Red Cross. One can only imagine if a disaster happened to you how you might feel if volunteers from the American Red Cross offered to help you. I know I was very grateful when they helped me. And now, I get to repay the favor by helping others.