Don’t forget the Red Cross!

We were pleased to see your coverage of regional emergency preparedness [“Weathering the Storm,” Aug. 13]. We at the American Red Cross here in WNC are also working with our community partners to develop a system for region-wide disaster response.

The Asheville Mountain Area Chapter of the American Red Cross is now the regional headquarters for WNC and is working cooperatively with community chapters to provide services in 16 counties. In the last year, we have provided emergency assistance to 106 families displaced by disaster in nine of those counties.

The Red Cross is also working to expand its capability to respond to a region-wide disaster. We have shelter supply trailers positioned throughout WNC and are ready to set up a 600-bed shelter when needed. We offer disaster-related courses on a regular basis and recently provided shelter-management training to the city of Asheville Parks and Recreation Department.

We have established partnerships with school systems, churches, nonprofits and other agencies to provide both human and material assistance when needed. Our upcoming J3K initiative will have as its goal the recruitment of 3,000 volunteers trained for deployment in a regional disaster.

The Asheville Mountain Area Chapter has also been providing disaster-preparedness education since its inception in 1917. We provide outreach through presentations to community groups, the distribution of printed materials, and Masters of Disaster units for use in elementary schools in the region. We encourage all families to build a kit, make a plan and stay informed.

The American Red Cross receives no funding from the government and relies solely on the community it serves for financial support and all-important volunteer commitment.

— Bob and Tina Hvitfeldt

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