Red Cross mapping areas of need following Hurricane Laura

Red Cross mapping areas of need following Hurricane Laura
An American Red Cross Disaster Relief vehicle sits outside of the East Texas chapter's office in Tyler. (Source: kltv)

TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - Smith County Red Cross is looking for ways to serve areas of need after missing the impact of Hurricane Laura.

Hurricane Laura made landfall early Thursday morning in Louisiana. The storm was originally forecast to skirt many of the northern East Texas counties, including Smith County, but the storm’s path tracked much farther east than expected.

“It looks like we have, for this time, dodged a bullet,” says Tammy Prater as she recalls the past twenty-four hours.

Prater is the Executive Director of Red Cross serving East Texas. She says although the storm might not have affected all of East Texas, they’ve pre-positioned personnel all over the Gulf area. “We moved people over the weekend, we were moving them earlier this week and that’s just something we know we had to do because that puts us in a place to respond where the damage is,” says Prater.

Two local Longview volunteers, one being a nurse, were deployed to Baton Rouge to help with sheltering and medical efforts.

Nicki Capoldo, Disaster Program Manager for Red Cross Longview tells us, “we will send some more volunteers in the next few days for the damage assessment so they can help Louisiana tally up that damage and work to get people moving forward in recovery.”

Damage assessment requires volunteers to physically inspect the damage within the area. This information is shared with their headquarters to know what type of assistance is needed and to calculate the cost of the disaster relief operation and damages. Capoldo says once damage assessment is done, they begin something called casework.

She describes the process of casework saying, “initially we go out and provide that initial assistance, but casework determines what the recovery for the client looks like, what their needs are, how we can best help them, connecting them with community partners.”

Capoldo says all of these efforts take a lot of manpower which is something they’re lacking right now because of COVID-19 and a simple way you can help is by donating or volunteering with your local Red Cross.

The Red Cross is not alone in their disaster relief efforts, just today the Salvation Army sent out emergency service crews down south to Beaumont.

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