Monday, August 2, 2010

Disaster Volunteer Returns from Helping with Texas Floods

Disaster volunteer Evelyn Halstead recently returned from a deployment to Laredo, Texas where she worked with the American Red Cross mental health team. Texas experienced severe flooding along the Rio Grande and other rivers. Many people were evacuated and their homes were destroyed.

Evelyn lives in Parowan, Utah and has been on numerous deployments all around the country during her 18-year career as an American Red Cross volunteer. As a mental health worker, Evelyn helps people who may have just lost their jobs, their homes and all of their material possessions. In some cases, disaster victims even lose loved ones. She listens to their stories, offers a shoulder to cry on and a hug to comfort them.

While in Laredo, Evelyn worked with the mental health team passing out comfort kits, water and food. She also helped in the Red Cross shelters. Many of the displaced families and individuals in the shelters were “hopeless and helpless,” Evelyn said. Her duties were to make sure those affected by the flooding had their immediate and essential needs met, including food, clothing and shelter.

Evelyn and the Red Cross team were travelling in an Emergency Response Vehicle passing out water and food in the neighborhoods and met one mother and her two daughters who were unexpectedly homeless due to the flooding. Because they had flood insurance some agencies did not offer any assistance for them at all. The mom was fortunate to have the insurance but had not yet received any of the benefits. When Evelyn arrived at her home, she was able to give them all something to eat and drink. The woman was incredibly grateful to Evelyn and the Red Cross team.

With all of the suffering, devastation and loss that Evelyn witnessed in Texas, on her previous deployments around the country and here in Utah, she has a heavy heart “You go in and you give what comfort you can and then you leave it there with them.”

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