After Hurricane Ike hit the United States, the American Red Cross welcomed members from one of its sister societies: the Mexican Red Cross. The 15-person team toured American Red Cross Headquarters in Fort Worth, Texas before joining thousands of Red Cross workers to help those affected by the hurricane. They are currently providing shelter, food, and distributing supplies for entire neighborhoods that have been destroyed.
Mexican Red Cross volunteers hand out meals from an Emergency Response vehicle in Galveston, Texas. Talia Frenkel/American Red Cross
Members of the Mexican Red Cross (Cruz Roja Mexicana) and the American Red Cross assist in Houston, TX. Will Pitts/American Red Cross
In Mexico, Red Cross workers are highly trained medical specialists. The team in Texas is made up of Emergency Medical Technicians and one physician, who were all invited to come and lend their skills and knowledge to the relief operation. They spent their first morning reviewing American Red Cross health procedures with Health and Safety staff and nurses, and will continue their service by assisting clients who require special medical attention. On day two, the team worked at the Auchon shelter as evacuees returned to Houston from outlying shelters.
As an added benefit, the Red Cross will place the team with bilingual disaster workers in areas with a high population of non-English speakers. According to Denise Bishop, Director of Communications for the Greater Houston Chapter, “We’re trying to get the message out that we provide assistance based on need, not citizenship status. They will be very comforting to many of our Houston and Galveston area residents.”
The two sister societies have a long history of cross-border disaster response. Last year the American Red Cross sent financial assistance and supplies to assist in the Tabasco flood response. During the 2007 California wildfires, a Mexican delegation of 10 trained workers designed innovative outreach tactics to serve isolated Spanish-speaking communities. The two societies also worked together during Hurricane Katrina when the Mexican Red Cross sent 20 relief workers to support emergency operations. Currently, the American Red Cross is providing technical and financial support to develop a Disaster Operations Center headquarters in Mexico City.
“We will gladly go where there is the greatest need. Our relationship with the American Red Cross will go on for many years to come. Whoever can give, should, and not just in their own communities. Red Cross services are universal, and the fact that we are here proves that,” said Marco Franco, Sub-Division Director of Disaster Services for the Mexican Red Cross National Headquarters and a member of the visiting mission.
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.