AUSTIN (KXAN) — Serving over 9.4 million Texans, the American Red Cross of Central & South Texas aids in disaster preparedness and provides for those in need during and well after an emergency. Whether it’s a large natural disaster or a local house fire, the organization aims to quickly step in to supply immediate shelter, food, water or whatever may be lacking in that situation.
The Central and South Texas Region is comprised of 6 local chapters, including one in Austin.
Meteorologist Kristen Currie spoke with Richard McAlister, an incident meteorologist with the American Red Cross Southwest & Rocky Mountain Division to discuss their mission and how volunteers can get involved.
Below is a transcript of their interview. Edits have been made for clarity.
Meteorologist Kristen Currie, KXAN News: Many can recognize the vest but most probably aren’t as familiar to all that the American Red Cross does day-to-day. Joining us from the American Red Cross is Richard McAlister. Richard, I think a lot of people see the vests in the disaster zones but you guys do so much more than that.
Richard McAlister, Red Cross: The American Red Cross is probably best known for its disaster response. Even today, we have volunteers from Central Texas, that are deployed to Guam for hurricane relief operations. We have volunteers that are also deployed out west for firefighting operations. And we have many volunteers that are getting ready for the upcoming hurricane season. But what most people don’t realize is that somebody calls the American Red Cross about every eight minutes asking for help, and we want to be there to help people in the midst of their tragedy to alleviate that human suffering. Whether it’s a widespread disaster like a hurricane, or whether it’s a personal disaster, like the loss of your home, we’ve got Central Texas volunteers.
Currie: Our neighbors helping other areas – if there’s someone at home thinking, I want to get involved, I want to be one of those helpers, whether it’s here in Central Texas or elsewhere, how does that process start? What do we need to do?
McAlister: That process starts online at www.redcross.org. There you can enroll to be a volunteer. Ninety percent of the Red Cross workforce are volunteers. And I like to tell people that the Red Cross in your community is only as strong as the willingness of your community members to be involved in the Red Cross. So if you’re thinking that somebody else is going to do it, please don’t think that way. Get the training now because I know good-hearted people always turn out after a disaster and they want to help. It would just be so much more beneficial if we could do a little bit of training with them ahead of time so that when disaster does strike, we have trained volunteers that are ready to respond immediately.