American Red Cross Representative Speaks About Disaster Services At Dillon County LEPC Meeting

By Betsy Finklea
Representatives from the American Red Cross spoke about Disaster Cycle Services at the Dillon County Local Emergency Planning Commission meeting on Thursday.

Dennis James

Dennis James said that 93 percent of their staff are volunteers. James was a volunteer for 39 years before going over to the paid side. James said that they need 40 people to volunteer in Dillon County to help with the shelters.
The Red Cross handles several types of disasters including home fires, a major disaster for the Red Cross; earthquakes; wildfires; tornado; hurricanes with flooding; and man-made disasters.
They work to meet the physical, emotional, and informational needs of those facing disaster.
They deal with power outages; communication breakdowns; shortages of food, fuel, etc.; the need for local community organizations and responders; and serious financial impacts and long-term recovery.
He said they have disaster action teams to handle fire calls on a daily basis. They do a pillowcase project at the fourth and fifth grade level and how to get out of a fire safely. All elementary schools in Dillon have been through the program.
The core mission areas of Disaster Cycle Services are Prepare, Respond, and Recover.

James Leslie

James Leslie talked about setting up shelters. Leslie and Richard Schafer are the two shelter managers in Dillon County. They try to establish three shifts with a supervisor. Snacks and beverages can be served up to 12 hours and after that they have to serve hot meals. He discussed the key responsibilities in the shelters.
James said it all comes down to power of community. Some of the partners include government authorities, volunteer organizations, and individual volunteers. Partners help contribute food, water, shelter, information, donations, and facilities.
James said this is the most rewarding thing he has ever done.
Volunteers are needed. There are numerous ways to volunteer including planning and organization, speaking in public, gathering and evaluating data, finding and coordinating resources, and much more. Volunteers must be able to pass a background check. Visit www.redcross.org to fill out a volunteer form.

Richard Schafer

Richard Schafer is the person responsible for getting volunteers. He spoke about some of the inadequacies and challenges they faced in Dillon County during Hurricane Matthew. He said they did not hit the button fast enough, and there were not enough resources. He said there is a new plan for Dillon County, and they are working on shelters in Dillon, Latta, Lake View, Little Rock, and in the future, Oak Grove and Gaddy’s Mill. He said their problem is volunteers.
James emphasized that they have to build a base of volunteers. There are approximately 200 Pee Dee area volunteers.
In other business, Disaster Preparedness Director Moses Heyward reported that:
-there were three diesel fuel spills in Dillon County in the past week.
-the Long Term Recovery Group is off the ground and is ready to start some projects.
-the Hazard Mitigation Plans are completed.
-that he (Heyward) is the new county fire coordinator, and John Smith of Dillon County Fire Station Three is the grant writer. The next meeting is September 28th at 11:00 a.m. at B&C Restaurant.

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