Story and Photos by Juanita P. Casanova, Red Cross Contributor
When the American Red Cross responds to a disaster, you see volunteers arrive with open hearts from all over the country, helping people in shelters and driving emergency response vehicles that deliver food and cleanup supplies, but have you ever wondered how a disaster response operation mobilizes so quickly? As the regional logistics lead for the Texas Gulf Coast, Roy Clark knows.
Clark, a retired geophysicist and a Vietnam veteran, manages all the supplies ordered and disbursed for a region that spans the borders of Louisiana and Mexico. A workforce engagement partnership was his introduction to the Red Cross. “Exxon hosted a Ready When the Time Comes training in sheltering, feeding and distribution of emergency supplies,” recalled Clark. A short time after that, he would use that training to help support a mega-shelter at the George R. Brown during Hurricane Ike.
It was during his time at the shelter that Clark realized his true passion. “I am more of a numbers and controls type of guy and was naturally drawn to logistics, said Clark. “I began volunteering part-time, one day a week and once I retired, I worked and trained my way up to my present position.”
Clark has served in over 20 deployments and has come to realize one thing. “All disasters are unique, said Clark. “Joplin looked as if a bomb blew up and destroyed the town; Sandy was more of a widespread coastal disaster and Ike was my sheltering experience. I was at the George R. Brown shelter; it was here. I lived it.”