The shelter at Forest Community Center in Hattiesburg had been open for three nights when one of the residents complained of severe pain. The nurse on duty called 911 to report a case of appendicitis and emergency personnel rushed Shelley to the hospital. During her convalescence at the hospital, American Red Cross nurses made it a point to check in on her. Shelley soon returned to the shelter and to her husband Vernon. Soon after that, together they sat with a caseworker to chart a course that would enable them to recover not only her health but their life before it got disrupted by Hurricane Isaac.
When Hurricane/Tropical Storm Isaac left the state of Mississippi, American Red Cross caseworkers made their way to the shelters. There, a caseworker meets one-on-one with an evacuee to gather pre- and post-disaster information. The meetings occur daily with caseworkers discussing options for getting evacuees back on their feet. The “Road To Recovery” booklet serves as a checklist for information and referrals that connect evacuees to the community. Client casework supervisor Gary Gardner praised Vernon for seriously following the instructions in the booklet.
Another tool caseworkers put to good use is Safe-and-Well. Gardner tells of a man registering at the shelter and letting our workers know he did not know what happened to his ex-girlfriend and infant daughter. “Caseworkers found them using Safe-and-Well and now he’s smiling like a Cheshire cat,” says Gardner.