The Red Cross remembers deadly Brunswick tornado one year later

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James Jarvis and the Disaster Relief Vechicle (Photo: Juliana Lane, WWAY News)

Wilmington, NC (WWAY)- One year ago today, members of the American Red Cross in the Cape Fear region were called out to help those in Brunswick county when a very powerful EF-3 tornado came in and ripped through the community taking the lives of 3 people, and injuring several others.

James Jarvis, the Executive Director of the Cape Fear area chapter of the American Red Cross, remembers recieving the alert in the early hours of the morning. Him and eleven volunteers were able to get out and set up a service center within thirty minutes to provide resources, warm food and access to mental health counselors at nearby St. Lukes Lutheran Church.

“The first thing we would like to say is our condolences to the families that were lost that particular day, and that whole community that had to deal with the aftermath of that storm. I think what we learned is just how important it is for a community to come together to help one another.” Jarvis stated that he was grateful for the relationship between the Red Cross and the faith community for helping to provide shelter in those times of need.

During the natural disaster and the days that followed, Jarvis and his team were able to use their disaster relief van to bring fresh water, warm food, and first aid items to those affected by the devastating tornado.

The relief van is able to feed up to 2,000 people and contains a variety of items that victims may need in a time of disaster. Jarvis says that there are about 400 of these vehicles throughout the country.

During hurricanes, the American Red Cross is also equipped with disaster relief trailers, that hold cots, blankets and everything needed to set up an emergency shelter with little time to spare. These trailers are typically used for hurricanes.

One of the many beneficial resources that the American Red Cross offers is disaster mental health providers. These are all licensed psychologists who take time away from their practices to volunteer in efforts to help the community. A team of 6 disaster mental health providers were on the ground for ten days after the storm, talking to the survivors, providing resources and helping them process what just happened.

Jarvis stated, “You can rebuild structures, but it takes more time to rebuild lives.” He added that they are always open and accepting to new volunteers. There are positions open in all areas, including volunteer disaster mental health providers.

You can also download The Red Cross Emergency App, which is able tell you when there is a severe weather warning or watch in your area. This can be useful when it is time to take action to protect yourself and the ones you love in an emergency, and also to help others in your area.