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Red Cross - Mission in Kentucky
Patricia Smith

The Red Cross responds to approximately 70,000 disasters in the United States annually. Although the Red Cross is not a government agency, it is an essential part of the response when disaster strikes. The Red Cross provides shelter, food, health, and mental health services to help families get back on their feet. In addition, we work in partnership with other agencies and organizations that provide services to disaster victims.

Eastern Kentucky suffered a devastating flood in July with 39 fatalities, leaving many homeless. "The National Weather Service reported that the rainfall over July 26-29 was “historically unheard of,” with less than a one in 1,000 chance of it happening over any given four-day period in the region."

I was asked to be deployed to Kentucky as Recovery Manager. What is Recovery?  Recovery consists of Caseworkers that respond following each disaster.  Recovery is the last on the ground during a disaster. Before Recovery, there is the opening of shelters and feeding. Health Service, Mental Health and Spiritual Care are usually on the ground at the opening of shelters or sometimes even before.

In Eastern Kentucky, Caseworkers worked alongside our internal services to better assist the families. Caseworkers gave immediate financial assistance and reached out to our community partners, who sometimes gave additional disaster assistance to the clients.

We had teams of Caseworkers that worked in fixed FEMA locations in the affected counties where clients would meet with FEMA and Red Cross simultaneously. We also had teams of Caseworkers that were part of the Mobile Community Outreach Team (MCOT). These teams went to remote locations in different counties where clients had no transportation to reach any of our fixed locations.

In this photo with one of our MCOT, one person held up his phone after getting a bar or two of the signal.  The other caseworker opened a case for the client and gave financial assistance.

Although on this deployment, I had little contact with the clients as my role was to manage the Casework Supervisors and Caseworkers. I was able to direct the teams to locations that were badly hit by the flooding so that we could reach as many clients as possible. However, I spoke with a client who lost his four young children in the devastating flood. It was a sad conversation.

A successful Recovery is about individuals and families being able to rebound from their grief and losses and sustaining their physical, social, economic, and spiritual well-being. I believe the recovery team made and is making a positive impact in Eastern Kentucky. This recovery effort may last for months.

The Red Cross is always in need of Volunteers. Likewise, we are always in need of Blood donors. The American Red Cross prevents and alleviates human suffering in the face of emergencies by mobilizing the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors therefore if you are unable to volunteer, you could give blood or donate to the Red Cross. Visit us at for more information

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