Flo LaBelle serves in the Canadian Red Cross as the Volunteer Operational Lead of Disaster Management at the Niagara Branch (the Canadian Red Cross has Branches instead of Chapters).
In early September, the American Red Cross asked the Canadian Red Cross for support of the Hurricane Isaac relief effort in Louisiana. Since she has duel citizenship Flo felt it “would be an honor to give assistance to fellow Americans.”
Flo responded to the request to deploy to New Orleans. While here she is learning and working in the Staff Services Staff Planning and Support activity. This is a new activity for her and she greatly enjoys learning the new skills.
Her initial support to the American Red Cross was Hurricane Katrina support. Flo deployed as a transportation worker, but soon found herself transitioned to the supervisor and manager of the Mass Care Feeding Service Delivery Site in Tyler, Texas. Once the site closed, Flo deployed further to Orange, Texas where she served as an Emergency Response Vehicle crew member. As she was able to provide direct relief to clients this was her favorite duty.
Flo’s initial impression of her team is that they are wonderful people and competent instructors. She enjoys that training is consistent throughout the American Red Cross and as one volunteer has been relieved by another the quality of training and service has remained high. Her largest challenge is understanding the terminology variants and the American love affair with acronyms. Flo’s greatest reward is meeting and getting to know a new group of volunteers from across the United States.
From her perspective, the most significant institutional difference is the American Red Cross activities of Disaster Mental Health and Health Services. These are not resident in Canadian Red Cross activities. And of course the size of our structure is much larger.
Flo was joined on this deployment by Sue Mariage, also of the Niagara Branch. Sue is serving with Mass Care in Baton Rouge.
When asked if she would deploy again to assist Flo stated: “Just ask”!