By NEMS Daily Journal
Patty Tucker is executive director of the Northeast Mississippi Chapter of the American Red Cross, which was among the first organizations to respond after violent storms ravaged Northeast Mississippi. The organization continues to provide relief across a 16-county area, and Tucker recently spoke with the Daily Journal about that work.
Q: Can you please give us a snapshot of what the Red Cross is doing across Northeast Mississippi?
A: The April 15 and April 27 tornadoes in Mississippi have left a trail of destruction. As local communities emerge to assess the damage, the Red Cross is there to provide relief, assistance and a shoulder to cry on. The most recent band of tornadoes is the sixth to hit Mississippi in the past year. The Red Cross has been there to provide support and services after each. As the community bands together to rebuild and return to normalcy, individuals and families are turning to the American Red Cross for shelter, food and emergency assistance.
There are currently 10 emergency response vehicles operating in north Mississippi, distributing hot food, water and clean-up kits.
In recent weeks we’ve served nearly 22,000 meals, given away more than 600 clean-up kits and have mobilized 449 volunteers.
Q: Put this weather in some perspective. Is it the worst string of natural disasters you’ve seen in your time with the Red Cross?
A: I’ve been with Red Cross for eight years. The recent tornadoes affected 14 of the 16 counties included in our Northeast Mississippi Chapter’s jurisdiction.
This is the worst disaster I’ve encountered during my tenure. It’s been tough to see my neighbors go through such tragedy.
More than half of the country has been affected by severe weather since March. Today, we’re preparing for and responding to floods. Red Cross disaster workers are helping people all across the country, making sure they have a safe place to stay, food to eat, emotional support, basic health services and relief supplies. These latest storms have resulted in large responses in Alabama, Mississippi, North Carolina, Missouri, Georgia, Virginia and Arkansas.
Q: What’s the best way folks can help?
A: We rely on donations to support our work. The Red Cross is a charitable organization, not a government agency, and we depend on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform our humanitarian mission. Financial contributions to American Red Cross Disaster Relief allow us to serve victims of more than 70,000 disasters a year. Every day, the American Red Cross responds to nearly 200 disasters ranging from house fires to tornadoes and massive hurricanes, each one devastating to the people involved.