Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Utah - American Samoa Red Cross News & Update

Red Cross Utah Region Volunteers Head Home from American Samoa

Disaster Relief Efforts and Call for Donations Still Underway

Salt Lake City, UTAH (Wednesday, October 21, 2009) -- It has been three weeks since an earthquake and tsunami devastated Samoa & American Samoa on September 29th, and the Red Cross is still on the scene helping the 2,000 people affected. Officials estimate it could be up to two years before power is fully restored. Many of the 11 disaster volunteers from the American Red Cross in Utah have completed their three-week deployment and are coming home from American Samoa this weekend. They performed a variety of tasks to help assist the disaster relief efforts. The volunteers spent their first few days distributing large, 6-man tents, or yurts, to families in the villages and taught the families how to assemble the yurts.

One Salt Lake City volunteer, Stan Rosenzweig, was in charge of distributing yurts and supplies. Stan comes home on Saturday and said, “We did it! We distributed the yurts, showed the families how to assemble them. Then we gave more than 1,000 local villagers large packages that contain 20 lb bags of rice, 3 lb packs of tuna fish, noodles, milk, crackers, baby formula, diapers, towels, sheets, pillows, flashlights, Red Cross comfort kits and bottled water.” Many of the volunteers put in 14-hour days and at night, they slept on cots in an outdoor shelter. The volunteers were uncomfortable thanks to hot days and lots of mosquitoes, but as Utah volunteer Kelly Hess said, “We are bug bitten and sweaty but it is all worth it. The people in the villages are so grateful for our help, they are wonderful.” Next week, Kelly will help to transition the people coming in to work on long term recovery. She returns to Utah on October 29th.

One group of volunteers right here in Utah helped remotely as well. This team led efforts to enter names onto the Red Cross Safe and Well website that helps families around the globe check the status of their loved ones in a disaster area. Remarkably, it was Red Cross volunteers from Utah who were on the ground in the villages collecting much of information that the team back home submitted online. All of these disaster relief efforts in American Samoa are made possible by donations from the American public to the Disaster Relief Fund. The call for donations is still underway and disaster relief efforts continue. To help: Donate at 1-800-RED-CROSS, or On those rare occasions when donations exceed Red Cross expenses for a specific disaster, contributions are used to prepare for and serve victims of other disasters.