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Elbow Grease and Ingenuity
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Leslie A. Smith
September 6, 2008

"American Red Cross—hot meals, cold drinks—come and get ‘em!" called Chris Newes from the driver’s seat of the American Red Cross Emergency Response Vehicle (ERV).

After Hurricane Gustav plowed into the Gulf Coast, people began to make their way back home this week, returning in many cases to homes without power. Near New Orleans, in Gretna, Louisiana, the Red Cross was there to make sure everyone who needed a hot meal got one. With a goal of serving 20,000 meals a day, Red Cross volunteers and employees set up mobile kitchens, prepared hot meals and loaded the food into the ERV.

Prepping the Emergency Response Vehicle for deployment
Residents of White Castle, Louisiana get meals and water from a Red Cross Emergency Response Vehicle. This neighborhood will be without electricity for several days and will therefore need food
Photo: Gene Dailey.

"Our hope is to find some folks who have unmet needs related to Hurricane Gustav. There’s no more direct service you can provide than handing them a hot meal that they wouldn’t have otherwise," said Newes, a Red Cross employee who was driving the ERV through neighborhoods to deliver meals.

Newes was the first to make these runs this week after Gustav; he was also among the first after Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005.

In addition to handing out meals, Red Cross workers offer smiles, words of encouragement and good humor to everyone they meet. They are also there to help when the unexpected comes their way, as it did when a small child needed treatment for a respiratory condition.

A mother, along with her three small children, was driving to Slidell, Louisiana, about an hour from New Orleans. One child was receiving a nebulizer treatment in their vehicle when the machine ran out of power. After asking members of the National Guard for assistance, the mother was directed to the Red Cross.

Donna McGranaghan, a volunteer from New Orleans, was there when the mother asked for help. Luckily, Donna and the other Red Cross workers figured out how to hook up the nebulizer to a power source in their mobile kitchen. The child was then able to complete the necessary treatment.

Moments like these make the hard work all worthwhile for Red Cross volunteers and employees.

"There’s nothing more rewarding than to go up and someone gives you a big hug and says thank you," said Becky Trostel, a volunteer from Ohio.

Visit the Blue Moon Productions site to see the Red Cross in action in Louisiana. For more Red Cross videos, visit our Media/Video Library.

All American Red Cross disaster assistance is free, made possible by voluntary donations of time and money from the American people. You can help the victims of thousands of disasters across the country each year, disasters like the Hurricanes of 2008, by making a financial gift to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund, which enables the Red Cross to provide shelter, food, counseling and other assistance to victims of disaster. The American Red Cross honors donor intent. If you wish to designate your donation to a specific disaster please do so at the time of your donation. Call 1-800-REDCROSS or 1-800-257-7575 (Spanish). Contributions to the Disaster Relief Fund may be sent to your local American Red Cross chapter or to the American Red Cross, P. O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013. Internet users can make a secure online contribution by visiting www.redcross.org.

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