QA: Emma Thomas Red Cross offers variety of services

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 7, 2007

LINDEN &8212; What services does the American Red Cross offer to the local community?

We offer disaster services, which consist of hurricanes, tornadoes, single-family fires and anything that could be considered a disaster. We offer people assistance with that.

How many people or families did the Red Cross local division in Linden assist last year?

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Our services run from June to July each year. We had 44 disasters, which were single-family fires as well as the Demopolis tornado included.

How do people that have been victims of disaster apply for assistance from the Red Cross?

Most of the time there is someone there who knows that the Red Cross office is located in Linden, and they will tell the client that they can come to the Red Cross office, which is open most of the time the next day after they have a fire. Sometimes I hear about things on the scanner, and I will go out and assess the situation myself. I check and see that the family has somewhere to stay with relatives to stay with that night. If not, we&8217;ll put them up in a motel until the following morning, and we will give them money for food and clothing the following morning. I don&8217;t always have to wait for the fire report, because most of the time I have to wait for the fire report, but if I go and assess it myself, then I don&8217;t not have to wait. I can ahead and give them assistance.

How long have you worked with the American Red Cross?

I was born here in Demopolis, but I lived in New York. I&8217;ve been back in Linden for about three years. I did volunteer work with the Red Cross in New York. I came back to Alabama the year of Hurricane Katrina, and did some volunteer work in Linden, which is how I came to work with the Red Cross here. Then they asked me if I would like to become a paid staff member and become coordinator for Marengo County, so that&8217;s how I became involved with it.

What is Project Share?

Project Share is where we assist clients that are 62 years of age or older and have some kind of disability. We help them pay their electricity bills or their gas bills.

How many volunteers are there?

I have two volunteers that work with me on Project Share and can cover the office if I&8217;m not here. I have about seven volunteers that can cover Calvary Baptist Church which is a shelter if something happens like a tornado, hurricane, train wreck or other disaster. We can open the shelter with the directions from the Emergency Management Agency director.

Does the Red Cross work closely with the EMA?

Yes, we work closely together. If anything like a disaster happens, (Kevin McKinney, EMA director) will give me call. From there we assess everything

and see what we need, like do we need to open a shelter. Like during the Demopolis storm, he made the decision that there wasn&8217;t that many citizens involved in the tornado, so we sent the clients to motels instead of opening the shelter.

What are the shelter locations in Demopolis?

In Demopolis we have Christian Chapel Baptist Church, Demopolis High School gymnasium and the Theo Ratliff Center.

What area of the Red Cross do you see has the greatest need for volunteers?

Sometimes I have to go out and assess things, so I need volunteers to come here and cover the office and help do paperwork for Project Share. We need trained volunteers to cover the shelter in case we ever have a disaster.

How can people volunteer?

They can get in contact with me at 334-295-0805.

What do you enjoy most about working with the American Red Cross?

I enjoy the whole thing. You&8217;re assisting people that really need your help, especially when they have a fire or hurricane or a disaster. These are the most vulnerable people, they need help. I&8217;m just glad to be there to be able to help them any way I can. I think the Red Cross is a wonderful place to work.