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Emergencies bring out best

Imagine that it is New Year’s Eve 1996. The news is filled with reports of residents fleeing the Marysville area as flood waters rise and homes are under water.

As a new volunteer to the American Red Cross, you have a mix of emotions. Everything from feeling that it could have been you who lost everything to the realization that this is your first emergency and you don’t really know what to do or how to help.

On the other hand, it is pouring rain outside but a continuous stream of community members shows up with warm clothes, blankets and a willingness to help more than 1,500 people that have been evacuated to the Vet’s Hall, Nevada Union High School and the Fairgrounds. You have first-hand experience at seeing both the good and the bad in a tragedy as you help to feed and house these people for a week.



That was the experience of Nancy Tipton of LWW in her first emergency with the American Red Cross. With so much in the news about the devastation in Asia, I sought out Nancy, who has been a Red Cross Volunteer since she moved to this area 12 years ago. I wanted to hear what it is like to be on the front lines of a disaster.

What I learned in talking to Nancy is that there are a number of people in LWW who help out on a regular basis, including Kathy and Terry Hudson, Arlene and Jack Lance, Joyce Kaplan, Shirley Boyd and Bill Koontz. Every person in the group is a dedicated and hard-working volunteer who puts in countless hours to help others. They are quiet about there involvement, but I do know that several members from the group helped out at the North Carolina floods and in New York City after 9/11.




What got Nancy started was a Red Cross program called “CPR Saturday” where community members came together to learn emergency skills. After receiving her Red Cross Certification, Nancy wanted to do more and eventually joined the Red Cross Board of Directors. Along with Shirley Boyd, they ran the “CPR Saturday” program for more than three years while Boyd Johnson completed the trio with “CPR Saturday” on the San Juan Ridge.

Nancy continued to take Red Cross training classes and eventually got involved in what is now the Disaster Action Team (DAT). These folks wear pagers so they can be reached at all times to assist in local emergencies. For example, if there is a local house fire at 2 in the morning, DAT volunteers help the family with lodging, food vouchers and clothing for a few days until they can get over the shock and get back on their feet. The fire department works closely with DAT volunteers and stays at the scene until they arrive to help the family.

Nancy has assisted with many local emergencies as well as floods in Houston and fires in Arizona. One of her most memorable experiences was the San Diego Wildfires of October 2003. She was sent to San Bernardino to help but on her second day she was transferred to San Diego, where she was put in charge of all transportation issues related to the widespread devastation. For the first two weeks, she handled this on her own until more help could arrive.

What I did not realize is that the Red Cross has lots of established relationships that help them in times of crisis. It is because of these existing relationships with companies such as Avis, Staples, and Boise Cascade that so many corporate contributions are coming in for the Tsunami Relief Effort. Thanks to people like Nancy, there are also folks ready to help with all the logistics involved in lending a helping hand.

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Got a tip about someone or something in Lake Wildwood? Contact Shirl Mendonca at 432-3787 or shirlmendonca@gv.net via e-mail.


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