Emergencies do not stop even in the midst of COVID-19. In the late afternoon on Wednesday, April 22, 2020, an EF3 tornado touched down in Onalaska, Texas. The intense storm system tracked eastward impacting Polk, Trinity, Tyler, Newton and Jasper Counties. The American Red Cross responded immediately to assist disaster victims by sheltering and feeding families who were displaced.
The Red Cross has worked diligently to develop guidelines to keep survivors, volunteers, and staff safe during this relief operation. These procedures help us to deliver on our humanitarian mission with compassion and care, while protecting against the spread of COVID-19.
“Red Cross volunteers and staff must follow safety procedures for social distancing and use Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)” says Steve Klapp, Safety Officer for the Southeast Texas disaster relief effort. “Each volunteer and staff is provided with training and equipment to perform their function while keeping safety in mind at all times,” he adds.
These procedures include sheltering clients at hotels and campgrounds where social distancing is easier to maintain. Feeding is also performed safely at shelters through non-contact delivery to avoid the spread of COVID-19. Mass care and distribution of emergency supplies also follow strict safety protocols.