Red Cross reflects on storm response

John Stegeman Sports Editor

July 17, 2012

Wayne Allen

PDT Staff Writer

The storm of June 29 left thousands of people in the area without electricity for several days and many in need turned to the Ohio River Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross.

Red Cross shelters were set up at Shawnee State University and Waverly City Schools and were utilized by area residents that needed to escape the heat or required power.

Mary Arnzen, Executive Director of the Ohio River Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross, explained that most people stayed in the shelter because they “do not have electric and there are a few that have medical utilities that need to be plugged in and they have no power at home,” Arnzen said. “It was a lot of work to set up the shelter and when we see people in need taking advantage, it’s all worth it. Because we are helping people that need assistance and that’s what the Red Cross is here for.”

The shelter was manned with Red Cross Volunteers and medical personnel from the Medial Reserve Corp.

Arnzen said the public response to helping those in the shelter was remarkable.

“The Red Cross Chapter could not have undertaken such a disaster response alone. We are so thankful for each and every one of our community partners. Know that you have made a difference in so many lives,” Arnzen said.

Terry Duncan, former disaster services coordinator Ohio River Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross retired in mid-June after working in various positions for the past eight years. His replacement, Eli Allen, assumed Duncan’s role June 15th as a volunteer and almost immediately was tested by the Red Cross response to the storms.

“He volunteers is time in that position until he was getting paid on July 9th. He was with us for a while. It was a baptism by fire. I thought he was going to quit before he started. When we open shelters, its a 24-7. It was 24-7 for about eight days,” Arnzen said.

She said, as the disaster services coordinator, Allen will coordinate disaster action team members.

“He will also teach preparedness to our community. That’s something we do when there is no disasters going on,” Arnzen said.

Allen said he started volunteering with the Red Cross in 2009 as a client casework person.

“In that position, I worked with people involved in single family fires. Being a firefighter, I saw first had how much families needed a place they could go and gather themselves. The Red Cross was a mechanism for that,” Allen said.

As a Red Cross volunteer, Allen has been deployed several times to help with national disaster areas such as Olive Hill, Ky. after flooding.

“That time was really fulfilling and helped me develop skills to take this position,” Allen said. “In this position I hope to continue the Red cross’ efforts to build a volunteer base, helping people prepare the community for whatever disaster may occur.”

Wayne Allen may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 208, or wallen@heartlandpublications.com.