Three months after being appointed to the role of Disaster Program Manager, Gisela Cinta, led a team of volunteers to respond to an overnight calamitous fire, unexpectedly occurring in an apartment in Houston, Texas, early June.

The apartment complex consisted of a three-story building and 19 units that housed approximately 18 families, all of whom lost their home. The entire building had seared into destruction and the units from the top floors had collapsed.

While on duty service, Cinta awoke to a call at 4 am, reporting a fire in the Harris County region. She then called the Houston fire department to confirm the fire.

Gables Apartments Fire

“I turned on the TV and recognized the address, I noticed it was a huge fire, I didn’t know the specific details yet, but I immediately called volunteers to go help. We worked hand and hand with the fire department and took care of the 19 families,” said Disaster Program Manager, Gisela Cinta.

Though new to the American Red Cross, her valiant efforts in disaster management brought seven volunteers to the scene and an unbreakable collaboration with the fire department, subsequently ensuring a safeguard to the residents that had been affected.

Volunteers helped fill out intakes for all the families affected and were able to provide each family with a hotel to lay their heads to rest and some monetary assistance. The condolences team was also notified and has been working with families affected by the tragedy.

“This was my first disaster relief operation, and a new experience, it taught me that we need the team of amazing volunteers. We need volunteers to help us fulfill the Red Cross mission, if you have a heart to serve then we have a place for you,” said Cinta.

Cinta highlights the leadership of volunteers that appeared on the scene: Jon Strohbehn, Donna Szak, Esteban Teran; Disaster Program Managers Luis Nieves and Justin Smith; virtual support volunteers Jose Castillo, Earnest Hardy, Benika Deepak, and Eric Bauer; and technical leaders to the Disaster Relief Operation were Patricia Dornak and Natalie Warren.

For more information on Disaster Response, Disaster Relief Operations, and how to get involved, please visit our website at Our volunteers are the leaders of the American Red Cross.