By Brian Shawn, Dakotas Region Communications Officer
After spending over a week in Washington as a part of the team that is assisting those affected by the Oso Landslide relief efforts, it certainly opens up your eyes. As a member of the American Red Cross, I am well aware of the work we do, but I had not experienced it first-hand on the ground at a major disaster area. Now that I have, it changed my perspective. I have seen the difference people can make by providing comfort and support.
This terrible disaster, like most disasters, took people by complete surprise in this area. The surrounding communities of Darrington and Arlington are very tight-knit and this is clearly a difficult time. What amazed me most is just how resilient the people are and how they have rallied around each other to support those who have lost or are missing loved ones.
The Red Cross sent over 400 workers (87% volunteers) to help and I got to be a part of it. I was on the Public Affairs team that got to work with local/national media, updates social media, and assist with messaging/photos/video from the ground to show how we are helping.
But the the most important piece of this response has been emotional support. Dozens of mental health volunteers, who are professionally trained, have spent numerous hours meeting with community members and responders who continue to search the scene. It has been physically and mentally taxing for all of them.
The efforts over the past two weeks have been remarkable but a lot of work still needs to be done. This response will continue for many weeks and months as the recovery process begins.
Just know that disaster can happen anywhere at any time. Be prepared and know there are people out there who will help when you need it.