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Red Cross team impressed by local support of efforts

By By MICHELE GERLACH Publisher
A team of about 50 Red Cross disaster workers who have spent most of the past two weeks in the Brewton area said they have never seen better local support for their efforts.
Dr. Rick Hinricks, who served as administrator for the team, said he was amazed at the way the local community worked to find resources to meet emergency needs.
The Brewton team was the first to complete its post-Ivan work.
Red Cross prioritizes needs and works in phases, he said.
When the time came to begin replacing medications, the Red Cross forms hadn't made it here yet.
Red Cross does bulk distribution to meet needs and to help people feel that something is happening, he said.
The old Kmart building was made available for storage.
The truck had to be unloaded once it arrived. Inmates were sent to help.
The Red Cross works in conjunction with the Southern Baptist Association to do mass feedings, he said. Red Cross provides food and a means to deliver it to a disaster site. The Southern Baptist Association provides a kitchen and cooks. Together, the two groups have provided more than 45,000 meals in the local area. The kitchen was to be moved yesterday, Saturday, Oct. 2.
Late this past week, fundraising to replenish the Red Cross disaster relief fund was already underway in Brewton.
The American Red Cross currently is providing disaster relief for 39 large disasters, 14 of which are as large as the relief following Hurricane Ivan.
He estimated that at least $100,000 in direct aid had been distributed here.
Another way Red Cross helps stimulate the local economy is by providing funds with which to replace lost items. Clients receive Red Cross cards – much like debit cards – with which to make the purchases.
When items like used clothing are provided as disaster relief, the Red Cross provides them to churches or thrift shops to help with long-term needs.
While the emergency phase of the disaster has passed and the client assistant phase is winding down, the recovery phase will probably last 18 months, Hinricks said.
Recovery is a long, slow process, he said.
Hinricks also expressed a "huge thank you to everybody on my team and the local volunteers."