Kevin Connell and Shoba Brown, ERV Volunteers, show off their plaques given to them by appreciative clients in Minnesota (Photo courtesy of Angie Springs, Midland Empire Chapter)
By Glenda Plunkett American Red Cross
Rex Thorpe just finished his first national assignment on an ERV (Emergency Response Vehicle) at the Minnesota-Wisconsin Flood. He didn’t know what he was getting into when he said he would ‘try ERV work’.
He climbed on board with two Red Cross veterans, Shoba Brown and Kevin Connell, both from the Midland Empire Chapter in St. Joe, MO. They took him under their wings to teach him the best tips for mass feeding and delivering meals to those affected. The route started first in Vernon County and then continued on to Money Creek, MN. There the last two days, the ERV team visited a campground where displaced people had gathered in tents.
Thorpe said, “The Red Cross volunteers were fantastic people and made a terrific team. They made my experience extremely positive. They knew the subtle things to do that mean so much and they graciously taught me. The way they connected with the clients was so special. They didn’t treat the people like clients but more like old friends. It didn’t take long for the clients to pick up on it too.”
Thorpe continued, “People in the neighborhood presented each of the ERV drivers with a plaque. It was a nice plaque with gold letters engraved on a black surface. It was a nice thing to do. These people lost everything. They lost their homes and for them to go out of their way like that, it showed how much they appreciated what these ERV volunteers did. These folks also gave Shoba and Kevin homemade pickles and hugs. They invited the Red Cross volunteers to come and attend a picnic a year from the date of the flood (August 19th). They told us the landscape would look differently by then. It would look like a neighborhood and not a disaster site.”
Thorpe summed it up by saying, “This was my first Red Cross disaster response but I would do it again. I hope people are never flooded out of their homes again. It would be nice to say that we will never have another disaster, but I know it will happen and I will want to help when it happens. I am glad my first disaster was not a huge hurricane like Katrina. This was a good experience. It amazes me how you take two strangers like Shoba and Kevin and in two weeks they are functioning as a very tight team. It is a very rewarding experience to a guy like me.”