For Many Volunteers, Disaster Response is Double-Duty

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In the wake of Sandy, thousands of Red Cross volunteers deployed to hard-hit areas. At the same time the group is responding to other disasters that occur on a daily basis.

On any given day, Red Cross Spokesman Michael DeVulpillieres said volunteers respond to an average of seven or eight disasters – predominantly house fires, and building collapses.

He said more than 100 incidents have occurred since Sandy.

For those incidents, Vulpillieres said the Red Cross relies on a handful of volunteers in-house, on standby, and thousands more who are on-call. In many cases, he said, those volunteers are doing double-duty or more.

“One weekend they’ll be assisting, distributing food out to one of the affected communities affected by Sandy, then during the week or in an evening shift they’ll be helping people displaced by a fire, or a building collapse somewhere in our area,” he explained.

Volunteers can also provide a range of services for victims.

“We’re meeting with them, we’re providing safe shelter, we’re providing them with mental health support,” Vulpilierres said. “We’re assisting them with their immediate needs.”

DeVulpilierres said the city’s handling shelter services for Sandy victims. The Red Cross is distributing food and emergency supplies to affected areas.