American Red Cross Chapters, One Year Later




American Red Cross Chapters, One Year Later
By: Wendy Ray

(Cape Girardeau, MO)--In any disaster, American Red Cross volunteers are some of the first people to show up to help.

This time last year they were at every disaster site lending a helping hand. But being everywhere at once, put a strain on the Red Cross, both physically and financially.
One year later, the organization is still trying to catch up. The Red Cross handed out around 250-thousand dollars last spring, to provide a helping hand for the Heartland's tornado and flood victims.

Mary Burton, director of the Red Cross chapter in Southeast Missouri says, "Those poor people just kept getting inundated. They thought they were beginning to recover from one thing, and another thing struck them again." A Poplar Bluff neighborhood was just one of the areas struck a year ago, and just one of the places American Red Cross volunteers were, within minutes, to help. But one year later, Burton's organization is still trying to recover. "It has a devastating effect on a chapter when you have a disaster happen," she says.

During the spring storm season last year alone, the Red Cross in Southeast Missouri helped more than 25-hundred storm victims, served more than 75-hundred meals, and housed nearly 160 people. "When you have disasters that keep happening one on top of another it's very difficult financially, emotionally, mentally, physically," Burton says.

Helping people overcome the storm's damage resulted in some changes at the Red Cross office in Cape Girardeau. "We've had to reduce some staff hours," Burton says. And the Red Cross office in Southeast Missouri isn't alone. Sandy Webster is the director of the Williamson County Illinois chapter, it worked several major disasters last year. "You have to start immediately, and then try to start and get money in," she says. Even though times are tough, Burton says things should get better. "We're hoping we're on an upswing now."

The Red Cross has to keep going, even if times are tough. Burton says they're ready to go, if storms hit the Heartland again this spring.