Story by Christopher Sommer
The response to the devastating Oklahoma tornadoes on May 19 and May 20, 2013 brought in American Red Cross volunteers from across the nation.
After seeing the outpouring of support following the tragic events of Sept. 11 and Hurricane Sandy, 14 Red Cross volunteers from the Fire Department of New York (FDNY), Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART), are now working with the relief efforts here in Oklahoma as a way of giving back.
“What the World needs more is giving back to people, getting back to the grass roots, helping your neighbor out and make this world a better place,” said Chris Edwards, Red Cross volunteer and FDNY DART member. “With the help of the Red Cross giving us the opportunity to be able to come down here with the knowledge we have…it’s a team made in heaven.”
Edwards and a group of fellow FDNY have been helping in the communities by loading trucks and emergency response vehicles as well as going through neighborhoods helping directly with assisting Oklahomans. Even more, they represent a symbol of hope to those they encounter, commenting on disaster victims seeing their team and knowing help is there.
This is not the first deployment this New York City DART has mobilized to help others along with the Red Cross. Edwards and the DART members have responded to numerous disasters around the country, such as Hurricane Katrina.
“When people need us, we’re here,” said Ronaldo Robledo, retired FDNY.
“With [the support of the Red Cross] and our moxie, people get the help,” explained Michael Mondello, retired FDNY and DART member.
When speaking about the impact of volunteers and the support that poured into New York after their disasters, Edwards remarked on his drive to help others, “…whatever it was they did for us, it was the idea that they went out of their way to help us out…it’s a thirst to help people that will never be quenched.”
Thanks to volunteers like Edwards, Robledo, Mondello and Irving DeShields, the Red Cross is able to carry out its mission of proving humanitarian service to those affected by disasters.