This story is written by Tom Breister and Virginia Hart, both Red Cross workers working in Louisiana to help with Hurricane Isaac relief.
As he has done many times before during disasters, American Red Cross volunteer Dennis Nagan from Appleton, Wisconsin, is preparing to transport meals to disaster-affected clients.
Meals are prepared by the Southern Baptist Convention Disaster Relief Kitchen #5 at the Alario Center in Westwego, LA. Food is then stored in large cambros (insulated containers that keep the food piping hot) and American Red Cross workers load them into the back of American Red Cross Emergency Response Vehicles (ERV). ERV’s are then dispatched to different neighborhoods that are desperately in need of hot meals and water. Each ERV can serve over 600 hot meals, plus water and snacks, each time it is dispatched. Depending on need, the ERV’s can service up to 5 routes per day.
ERV drivers are specially trained in Red Cross Chapters across the nation. During a disaster, ERV’s from all over the United States, driven by Red Cross volunteers, mobilize to help feed communities devastated by disaster. The hometown and state of each ERV is imprinted on the side of the vehicle.
Southern Baptist Convention Disaster Relief often partners with the American Red Cross to provide hot meals immediately following a disaster. They are expert in preparing mass amounts of food. Their state of the art food preparation vehicle costs $450,000. Several of these vehicles can be deployed following a major disaster. Southern Baptist manager Jack Sellers said his organization can produce up to 25,000 meals per day at that one kitchen.
Even though he has been deployed as an ERV coordinator in several past disasters, Nagan laughs and says that he always says “but this one is the best.” “The partnership between the Red Cross and the Southern Baptists is critical in delivering services after a disaster,” Nagan said.