By Madison Gober, Red Cross Intern
Prior to joining the American Red Cross Summer Internship Program, I knew I would have a once-in-a- lifetime experience doing humanitarian work. But I didn’t know I’d also get a front row seat to the Red Cross responding to a large-scale disaster.
July 4th, 2019 started like every other day. I had my morning coffee and went for a run at 10 am. At 10:33 am, a jolt shook the sidewalk beneath my feet. I thought to myself, maybe there is a rock quarry nearby. Growing up in Maryland, I had felt explosions from a nearby quarry rattle my neighborhood before.
But this felt different.
My cell phone started buzzing nonstop with messages from friends and official reports stating that a 6.9 magnitude earthquake had just rocked L.A. I realized, “Wow, I just witnessed a huge earthquake while interning at the Red Cross. What are the odds?” Then, I texted my manager and fellow Red Cross intern to see if they were okay and to find out what to do next.
I didn’t have to wait long to find out.
The Red Cross responds to disasters like these by mobilizing a vast team, each with their own specific roles and responsibilities to perform. I never realized how quickly the Red Cross could set up a shelter and get it running. I had no idea the extent of services the Red Cross provides to people affected by disaster, from offering food, water and shelter, to providing medical aid and emotional support to people affected by the disaster.
I supported the relief effort by way of social media, keeping the public aware of what services were available and where to go for help. I even communicated one-on-one with a few people to answer their questions and share the latest information with them. My team spent long hours in the days following the earthquake to make sure we kept the community and affected residents informed about the response.
While helping with social media, I received messages from people from near and far who wanted to help with the disaster situation. It was extremely heartwarming to see just how many people reached out to help.
Being involved in the earthquake response was an experience I will never forget. I’ve learned a lot during my internship about what the Red Cross does for so many people and the well-orchestrated process behind it all.
I never thought I would witness the biggest earthquake to hit Los Angeles in 20 years and be working at the Red Cross at the same time. Learning from and working for such a hardworking team was an honor.
The next time the ground shakes under my feet, I’ll be more prepared and have peace of mind knowing that the Red Cross is already leaping to action to help those in need.