Monday, March 12, 2012

Louisville FedEx Express Teams with Red Cross on Disaster Response

The following post is by Angela Nicholas, a Red Cross volunteer from the Coastal South Carolina Chapter in Myrtle Beach, SC. Angela is a former Chapter Executive and is currently volunteering with Red Cross Public Affairs. This past week, she has been out in the field collecting stories from Southern Indiana residents affected by the March 3 tornadoes.

A team of volunteers from the Louisville region FedEx Express facility partnered with the American Red Cross this week to provide bulk distribution items to victims of the recent string of violent tornadoes that struck Southern Indiana and Eastern Kentucky. FedEx has a long-standing partnership with the American Red Cross and has for a decade been a loyal donor providing cash and in-kind donations, as well as episodic support.

FedEx supports the communities they serve through strategic investment of their people, resources and network. Manager of the Crittenden Drive FedEx Express facility Jeff Bishop said, “The company solicited volunteers from the 175 local staff members to see how FedEx volunteers could help with the disaster recovery effort.” After viewing some of the devastation more than a week after the event, Bishop said, “It’s heartbreaking, devastating, and indescribable. I’ve never seen damage like this from Mother Nature. This is something the people from these communities will carry with them the rest of their lives.”

The FedEx Express team traveled with local Red Cross volunteers March 10 providing bulk distribution of clean up supplies that included work gloves, shovels, coolers, and rakes, as well as bottled water in the devastated areas of Henryville, Borden, Daisy Hill, and New Pekin.

Angela Sexton, security specialist with FedEx Express’ Central Regional Security division, said the shock of seeing the damage “grabs you inside.” Sexton lives within 11 miles south of where the tornadoes struck. “Viewing the area in person,” Sexton said, “was like something you’d see in the movies and not something you expect in real life. While our team is small in number we hope to make an impact.”

Bishop was accompanied by his 16-year-old son, Bradley, a junior in high school, who related to the loss suffered by the students of Henryville High School, a school that was destroyed by the storm. “I just wanted to do whatever I could do to help out,” he said. “I feel sorry for the kids because they have to be placed in different schools with new people and it will be different for them.”

The FedEx team saw first hand the work and resources provided by Red Cross staff and volunteers and were impressed at how the communities have come together with neighbor helping neighbor. “It’s very impressive to see people come together like that, doing the simple things like picking up sticks and raking.” Bishop said the local FedEx facility was thankful all their employees were accounted for and uninjured from the disaster. He and the other team members left that day ready to learn more about becoming a disaster response volunteer.