Story and caption by: Jay Bonafede, American Red Cross
Photo by: Stefanie Arcangelo, American Red Cross

When the Southeast Texas floods began, Southeast and Deep East Texas Chapter Executive Chester Jourdan, Jr. knew there would be a need for additional volunteers. So he placed a call to someone he knew might be able to help.

“I worked with Chester during Hurricanes Katrina and Rita,” said Pat Grimes of his experiences with Emergency Management through his job at the Beaumont Fire Department. “He said we needed help, and recruited me to do disaster assessment. That’s what I wanted, to be outside, see things, feel what happened.”

After taking some “Just-in-Time” training, Pat soon got his wish. His first day as a Red Cross volunteer, Pat was assessing damage on Highway 63 along the Sabine River.

“This extended family had five or six homes along the river. They lived there a long time,” Pat remembers. “They all got out okay, but everything was destroyed. Trout Creek and Deweyville saw extensive damage there. Really, I saw damage from Toledo Bend all the way down to Orange.”

4.1.16 Pat Grimes (4)
Volunteers Pat Grimes and Maryrose Conklyn look over data at a Multi-Agency Resource Center in Orange, Texas. Grimes became a Red Cross volunteer shortly after the Southeast Texas floods began last month, and he intends to stay on beyond the long recovery process. “It’s been rewarding.”

Pat has spent the past week working out of the Multi-Agency Resource Center in Orange, continuing to assess damage and help families get the assistance they need in their recovery. As a local resident, Pat knows it will take months or even years for his neighbors to fully recover from this disaster. He encourages others to join him by helping the community as a Red Cross volunteer.

“It’s been very rewarding for me, very enjoyable,” Pat said. “I love the fact you get to meet so many people from across the country. Everyone’s been so helpful and accommodating. Excellent teamwork!”

The Southeast and Deep East Chapter is in need of volunteers to help respond to the Southeast Texas floods, home fires and other disasters, as well as to help this community better prepare for the next disaster. For more information, please visit www.redcross.org/volunteer.