The Four Corners chapter of the American Red Cross needs volunteers, said Todd Parisi, disaster action team coordinator for the Four Corners Red Cross.
The organization responds to local disasters by providing victims with basic needs, clothing, emotional support, temporary housing and emergency funds.
“We need more in all of our towns so we can respond to help our neighbors and visitors when they are having a bad day,” he said.
Local chapters have come and gone, and there was not one locally for a while, Parisi said. The retired Dolores County EMT decided to organized a new chapter in 2015 based out of Dove Creek.
They currently have only five to six volunteers to cover the Four Corners. Ideally, they would like to have more volunteers spread out in Cortez, Dolores, Mancos, Towaoc, Rico and Durango.
The Four Corners chapter responds to about 10 disasters per year, Parisi said, arriving in a donated old ambulance full of supplies. Often they are called in to help people who have lost homes to fire.
“Imagine losing everything in moments. They are in a state of shock, and have nothing but the clothes on their backs wearing flip flops,” Parisi said. “We provide the support they need to get their bearings and start the recovery process.”
Victims are issued debit cards to purchase immediate necessities such as clothing, food or a hotel room.
The Red Cross also helps during extreme weather emergencies such as the 2002 Missionary Ridge Fire that burned dozens of homes or the 2015 Christmas blizzard that closed U.S. Highway 491 overnight between Cortez and Dove Creek and stranded dozens of people on the highway in their cars in freezing weather.
Dove Creek’s 12 hotel rooms quickly filled, Parisi said, and Red Cross volunteers arranged overnight shelter for stranded motorists in area churches and local homes.
Other times the group helps victims of vehicle crashes or someone who has broken down. During the Weber Fire in 2012, they were on standby and set up an emergency shelter.
In responding to an emergency, Red Cross volunteers help in many ways. They comfort victims, run errands, pick up family members, gather supplies, set up shelters, or take care of pets or livestock.
The local chapter will be having a meeting May 12 at the La Plata County Fairgrounds. Those interested in volunteering are encouraged to attend. Volunteers must pass a background check and go through a training process.
For more information on volunteering with the Red Cross and to fill out an application visit redcross.org.