Red Cross expands HC services

Published 10:47 am Wednesday, August 17, 2011

WINTON – Hertford County has a new partner in emergency situations and it’s a name that a majority of people throughout the nation and the world have come to trust.

The Hertford County Board of Commissioners have approved a memorandum of understanding between the county and the Greater Albemarle Chapter of the American Red Cross. The main part of the agreement is for the Red Cross to manage the county’s general population shelters during times of emergencies and natural disasters as well as offering food services at those shelters.

The plan was pitched to the commissioners by Hertford County Emergency Management Director Chris Smith and Department of Social Services Director Adonica Hampton.

“In the past, Hertford County has always managed our own shelters,” Smith said. “We thought about ways we could strengthen our capabilities of managing our shelters and that led us to Carolyn Self and her husband, Jim, of the American Red Cross. Our proposal to you is to develop a partnership with the Red Cross.”

Smith stressed that the added benefit of having Red Cross onboard was their ability to offer food services.

“They can feed those in the shelter as well as county employees working in these emergency type situations,” Smith said. “We haven’t previously had that feeding benefit.”

Smith added there were other benefits having Red Cross onboard, including reimbursing the county’s public school system for expenses they incur while emergency shelters are open (those shelters are at the local schools).

“This agreement allows us (DSS) or the Red Cross to open a shelter,” Hampton noted. “We’ve been talking with the Red Cross for quite a few months on how we can expand and offer more resources to our citizens and get more people involved (in providing manpower at the emergency shelters).”

Hampton added that the county had previously partnered with the Red Cross, just not at this particular level of service.

“Red Cross is already instrumental in our food nutrition disaster program,” she stated. “They helped us put out (informational) flyers following the April 16 tornado.”

She added that other than Red Cross adding food services to the list of benefits in Hertford County, the expanded partnership will be basically transparent.

“DSS will still staff the emergency shelters, but we hope this expanded partnership with the Red Cross will hopefully lead to more local citizens joining that organization’s ranks as volunteers. Red Cross will also offer us additional training under this new agreement,” Hampton said.

“This agreement will allow us to expand our services and expand the resources available to the citizens of Hertford County,” said County Manager Loria Williams. “We will operate our shelters to American Red Cross standards; that style will be offered to us through their training. It’s a win-win for us.”

“I read this agreement twice and it’s a great plan,” Commissioner Howard Hunter III said. “I personally witnessed what the Red Cross can do in the time of an emergency. They were the first out-of-county organization to arrive on the morning after the April 16th tornado and did a wonderful job reaching out to our citizens that were impacted by that storm.”

“Of all the counties affected by that storm, our Red Cross Chapter was in Hertford County first,” said Carolyn Self. “That was because of the previous relationships we have built here in Hertford County.”

Self promised that the Red Cross would take care of Hertford County citizens and workers using storm shelters.

“For us to come in and run these shelters, it takes a load off your county personnel as we take on that responsibility,” she stated. “What typically happens is there remains a need for shelter after a storm, but your DSS workers still have their normal daily duties. We can take care of the people in the shelter and DSS can do their jobs. We’re pleased to be a part of Hertford County and look forward to working with you.”

“A lot of people don’t know first hand what the Red Cross can do,” Commission Vice Chairman Curtis Freeman remarked. “I want to thank you personally for what you’ve done in Hertford County and what you are planning to do under this expanded agreement.”

“Red Cross has a reputation that is second to none,” Commissioner Ronald Gatling said. “DSS ran our shelters well before, now we’re stepping that level of service upwards with the presence of Red Cross.”

As far as to what the Red Cross will provide as part of this agreement, the list includes free training, shelter kits, medical kits, and providing physicians at the shelters. Red Cross also assumes the insurance liability at the Hertford County shelters, where the current Shelter Managers will become Shelter Leads under the direction of the managers provided by the American Red Cross.

Hampton and Self are now working on a plan where they will jointly solicit local volunteers to the Red Cross and have them take part in the pending training sessions. That plan will be announced in this newspaper as soon as the information is made available.

Hunter offered a motion to approve the memorandum of understanding between Hertford County and the American Red Cross. Commissioner Bill Mitchell offered a second and the measure was approved without objection.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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