LUFKIN, TX (News Release) - Hurricanes, wildfires, thunderstorms and certainly tornadoes are all common occurrences across the state of Texas. That's why it's imperative that the American Red Cross, an organization responsible for bringing comfort to Mother Nature's victims, is as prepared as possible in advance of any unexpected event. On Saturday, February 26, 2011, 23 Texas Red Cross chapters will join forces and simultaneously test their ability to respond to a simulated devastating tornado outbreak.
The role of the more than 600 disaster assessment volunteers will be to determine the types of residential damage caused by the mock tornado outbreak. Throughout the statewide exercise, volunteers will approach specific pre-selected neighborhoods. On stakes that will be inserted into the ground, the volunteer will have a visual image of a home that has been impacted. They will have to determine the type of damage and then relay that information back to Red Cross and to FEMA Region VI officials. This important step is the catalyst to all Red Cross services.
"It's critical that we have an accurate assessment of impacted homes as quickly as possible," said Glenna Harkness, Deep East Texas Branch Manager "That step tells us how many meals need to be prepared, how many volunteers need to be activated, how many shovels and rakes we need to have on hand and so much more. It drives the entire Red Cross response."
In the Lufkin area, the Red Cross has partnered with Amateur Radio Emergency Service, CERT, Greater East Texas VOAD, SBTC, Skywarn and Angelina County Emergency Management to get the best results from the exercise. Volunteers will report to Red Cross office at 8:15a.m., participate in a briefing, and then hit the Englewood Subdivision by 8:30a.m. The drill is expected to last until noon, followed by an after-action review from 12:00p.m-2:00p.m.
"Without question, this drill will help the Red Cross be better prepared for future disasters", said Jeanie Miles, Red Cross Disaster Coordinator. "We saw with Hurricane Rita and Ike that disasters can and do affect the entire state. The more we train through exercises like this one, the more we can help our neighbors when they truly need us.
"If you're interested in becoming a trained Red Cross volunteer, please know it's not too late," said Jeanie Miles, Spring Storm Season and the upcoming 2011 Hurricane Season will be here soon.