By Los Angeles Region CEO, Jarrett Barrios
Here in Los Angeles, our thoughts and prayers are with those in Texas and the Gulf Coast, who have most likely just experienced one of the scariest weekends of their lives. Now that area residents have made it through the brunt of this tremendous storm, taking the necessary steps and precautions to stay safe is just as, if not more, important than it was during the life-threatening winds. As tropical storm conditions continue, I urge residents in the affected area to use caution, and remember: Turn Around, Don’t Drown! If driving into a flooded area, please turn around and go another way. And, if you are caught on a flooded road try to remain calm, get out of the car quickly, and move to higher ground.
Please know that the Red Cross has mobilized a massive relief effort to provide shelter, food, and comfort to anyone in need. Currently, our disaster services team has more than 80 tractor trailer loads of relief supplies in the region – enough to support more than 34,000 people for weeks— complete with cots, blankets, ready-to-eat meals, comfort kits, and cleaning supplies. The Red Cross is also mobilizing its disaster partners to support feeding, child care, disaster assessment and other disaster services. And, right now, more than 200 Red Cross emergency response vehicles (ERVs) have been activated—more than half of our total fleet. Here in L.A., we have already deployed over 20 volunteers to the affected area, and we have many more on standby ready to join thousands from around the country in the weeks and months ahead. I am also headed out to the Houston area, and will leave later today to work closely with Red Cross volunteers and elected officials throughout the region.
Sadly, because of this storm, many, many people have been displaced. In fact, as of this morning, more than 6,000 people have sought refuge at dozens of Red Cross shelters throughout the affected area. It is important, as you continue to follow the headlines about the destruction and devastation caused by Harvey, to know that the tens of thousands who will need food and shelter in the coming days and weeks ahead will always have access to American Red Cross services.
One of the brighter lights at the end of Harvey’s tunnel, especially for those currently displaced, is finding solace in knowing that the Red Cross will always be there. This is because the Red Cross is guided by the seven Fundamental Principles of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, including the Principle of Impartiality.
The American Red Cross Statement of Impartiality, in-part, states that:
“It makes no discrimination as to nationality, race, religious beliefs, class or political opinions. It endeavors to relieve the suffering of individuals, being guided solely by their needs, and to give priority to the most urgent cases of distress…During a crisis, human beings need help to stay safe and sustain life, no matter what their nationality, cultural background or citizenship status…Red Cross workers will not question individuals about their citizenship status, nor will they request birth certificates, immigration papers, passports, social security cards or similar documents that could be interpreted as being used to identify the nationality or immigration status of persons seeking Red Cross assistance.”
Hurricane Harvey is the first Category 4 Hurricane to make landfall in the U.S. since Hurricane Charley, in 2004. While the destruction and devastation left in its path will certainly be a test of our strength and resiliency as an organization and as a community, please know that the Red Cross will always be there, providing humanitarian aid as long as is needed, for anyone in need.
Please share this post, especially with those who may have concerns over their safety in seeking Red Cross assistance. Additionally, if you feel so moved, you can make a $10 donation to support Red Cross Hurricane Harvey relief efforts by texting the word, HARVEY, to 90999.
If interested, the American Red Cross Statement of Impartiality, in its entirety, can be found at: http://www.redcross.org/about-us/our-work/disaster-relief
Jarrett Barrios is the Chief Executive Officer at the American Red Cross Los Angeles Region. But, above all, Jarrett Barrios is a humanitarian, with more than 20 years of experience helping those in need throughout the United States and Cuba.
To learn more about Jarrett Barrios or the America Red Cross Los Angeles Region, visit RedCrossLA.org