Joe Apacelli and Fred Bolen loaded up an Emergency Response Vehicle with food, water and other supplies and headed out just before 9 a.m. For Apacelli, this is happening on an important anniversary.
“My Red Cross deployment career started 12 years ago literally today when I first deployed to Hurricane Katrina,” Apacelli said. “Since then, I’ve been on about 38 national deployments.”
Of course, it is tough to compare anything to the astonishing flooding we are seeing from Hurricane Harvey. Around 50 Connecticut Red Cross volunteers are heading there. For right now, ‘there’ is Baton Rouge, Louisiana. That city is more than 250 miles from Houston, so it is a safe enough staging area for disaster relief.
“We’re right now in a response mode,” explained Apacelli. “Let’s get the Emergency Response Vehicle where it needs to be. Mobile feeding unit needs to be, right now, down there in Baton Rouge, so we’ll get there, that’s our first mission: supply.”
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Supply is crucial because the demand is going to keep growing as the floodwaters keep rising. Richard Branigan, Connecticut-Rhode Island Chief Administrative Officer for the Red Cross, thinks the need for help is just beginning.
“People are having trouble getting out of their homes,” Branigan said. “They are having trouble reaching the shelters, and I think over the next 24-48 hours, we will see our shelter numbers, which are now in the thousands, we will see them grow even larger.”
“It’s devastating to see what they’re going through,” said Fred Bolen. “You can just pray to the good lord that they can remain safe.”
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Fred usually remains safe himself, coordinating things from Connecticut. This is his first trip to a disaster zone.
“You know, we all have to step up to the plate at some point and help our fellow man,” Bolen said.
The scope of the devastation from Hurricane Harvey is just so huge it got him out into the field.