Vinton resident Bill Hawk has spent the last two weeks as a Red Cross volunteer, helping Louisiana residents who were affected by the recent flooding.
“I was deployed from Aug 24 thru Sept 6th to Baton Rouge, La., for a flood that accrued weeks prior,” says Hawk. “I was first assigned as a shelter worker with plan to be an overnight staffer. It include setting up two shelters, one for 110 staff (which I stayed at) and another client shelter for 50.”
Later, he was assigned as a ERV driver (Emergency Response Vehicle) delivering food to drop off points, such as, churches or schools.
“And also going on ‘search and feed’ trips where we dished up and handed out meals in remote locations,” Hawk says. “I had 4 neighborhoods — 200 to 500 meals per day.”
Hawk was part of one of three kitchens in the Baton Rouge area and during the height of the disaster the kitchen in which he worked delivered 10,000 to 15,000 meal per day.
“We usually created the meals while roaming the neighborhood,” Hawk recalls. “It was like being on a moving hay rack in the barn loft — very hot and bumpy.”
There were many organizations helping clean out peoples home while the others served meals. The Red Cross kitchen teams fed those volunteers as well.
“The Oklahoma Baptist group cooked and cleaned the red containers every day,” Hawk says, recalling one group’s unique project. “Yet, they were impressed with us.”
Hawk’s wife, Mary, also has served with the Red Cross.
“I deployed to Alexandria, La., in April for flood relief,” she says. “I was working as a nurse for Red Cross health services. There were 4000 cases referred to health services. Our job is to help folks meet their disaster related health needs- this involves replacing lost medications and durable medical equipment, like glasses, walkers, nebulizers,etc. Most days I was working out of the state headquarters per computer or phone.”
Another part of that job is to take care of Red Cross workers that get sick, Mary says.
“Other days we would go out to see clients. I will never forget the people I met or some of the sad living conditions we saw. I worked with a great group of Red Cross folks from across the country. It’s very rewarding hard work. It was also amazing to see how a large relief effort is organized,” she says.