Typhoon Soundelor destroyed homes, toppled trees and snapped utility poles on the 48-square-mile island of Saipan. The island is close to six thousand miles away from Stanislaus County, but distance doesn't play a role in how the Red Cross provides assistance to the people affected by this disaster.
As part of a new virtual deployment program, Red Cross volunteers from this region are now helping people affected by natural disasters across the country and around the world without ever leaving their homes.
Kathy Pascoe, a Ceres resident, has been a volunteer with the Red Cross for 21 years and is part of the Disaster Action Team that responds to local disasters. She is trained in health services, nursing and client case work, among other things.
From her home in Stanislaus County, Kathy is helping process paperwork online for families affected by the tropical storm. Those documents are necessary to get funding and other resources approved for the disaster victims. This is a more cost-effective way of offering assistance.
"Typhoon Soudelor is the biggest storm to hit Saipan in 30 years, and the situation is desperate," said Pascoe. "Being virtually deployed is a great opportunity for volunteers that either can't take time off from work to deploy, or for family reasons... they can still help those in need.
Kathy has done more than 200 case reviews from the comfort of her own home, for both the typhoon and a month earlier for the flooding disaster in Texas.
The Red Cross responded immediately to support sheltering, feeding and damage assessment efforts by deploying numerous volunteers to this part of the U.S. Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands shortly after the typhoon. The agency opened close to 1,000 cases and provided over 22,000 meals and snacks, more than 2,000 health and mental health contacts and over 38,500 emergency relief items to the residents affected by this disaster.
Because of the extensive damage, the Red Cross created a robust relief plan to get immediate help to people. The virtual support program delivers financial assistance with critical supplies to help people leave emergency shelters and begin recovering.
Residents may help by making a gift to American Red Cross Disaster Relief online or calling 1-800-REDCROSS.