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Red Cross volunteers test emergency response

By BY DIANNA WRAY
Feb. 26, 2011 at 3:03 p.m.
Updated Feb. 25, 2011 at 8:26 p.m.

Red Cross volunteers assess the damage on a house struck by a tornado in a mock disaster drill. The drill was held on Saturday.

HOW TO HELPTo become a Red Cross volunteer, contact Linda May at 361-573-2671.

A tornado struck Victoria on Saturday.

Nothing was destroyed and no one was hurt. It was part of a state-wide disaster drill.

Crossroads Red Cross volunteers handled the disaster drill beautifully, emergency services director Linda May said.

The Crossroads Chapter of the American Red Cross was one of 23 organizations participating in a statewide disaster drill on Saturday morning.

Volunteers poured out of Second Baptist Church on Lone Tree Street, and into the Greenbriar Addition to assess the disaster.

Neighborhood residents were notified that the drill would be taking place. On Saturday morning, small signs were placed in front of homes across the subdivision. Each sign showed a house devastated by a tornado.

A group of volunteers carefully examined the photo of a home with a gaping hole in the roof as they checked off information on their worksheets.

"This looks pretty bad," one volunteer murmured.

Peggy Viets, a volunteer from Port Lavaca, agreed as she studied the photo carefully.

Viets decided to participate in the training, so if there is an emergency, she'll be able to help.

"I volunteer because I want to help people. If there's an emergency, I want to be able to help out," Viets said.

May said they agreed to participate in the drill because in the wake of a real disaster, having well-trained volunteers to assess the damage is key.

"If this were a real disaster, we need people out there who will know how to figure out how much food we'll need. FEMA doesn't start providing financial assistance until these assessments are done, so we need to get them done as soon as possible," May said.

The drill also served to help Red Cross organizations across the state coordinate their disaster communication.

Each agency submitted data collected over the course of the four-hour-long drill to the Dallas Red Cross office. They also practiced communicating with ham radios.

Crossroads Red Cross board director John Johnston said they practiced with the radios to make sure they'd know how to communicate during an emergency.

"Ham radios are the last communication line. If all else fails, we want to be able to keep the lines of communication open. We wanted to check out abilities on that," Johnston said.

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