ANDERSON, Ind. — Editor’s note: This is the 11th installment of a weekly series about the many services that the United Way of Madison County provides.
While the effects of Superstorm Sandy are fresh on the minds of all Americans, average citizens often don’t plan for emergency situations — and, in many cases, planning for disaster conditions at an individual level is nearly impossible.
Whether a sweeping problem affects an area or a house fire displaces a single family, the United Way of Madison County is ready to step in to meet the emergency needs of residents.
“Funding provided through the United Way of Madison County is the cornerstone of our community support,” said Brad Schleppi, community and business relations representative for American Red Cross of Greater Indianapolis. “Experienced volunteers conduct training and mentor newer members so when disaster strikes, trained and caring people are prepared, equipped and ready to help.”
Between supplying food, shelter and clothing in a disaster area, the Red Cross is able to meet the needs of people at a time when advance planning was not an option. Using the donations of individuals and the United Way, the organization uses their expertise to move efficiently in an area of need.
“The situations in which our clients find themselves is usually not their fault and is often beyond comprehension to the average person,” said Schleppi. “When a house catches fire in the middle of the night or a hurricane makes a landfall on the coast, the American Red Cross is there because you care. Your contribution to the United Way of Madison County provides shelter to the person who has, in an instant, become homeless; provides warm food to the person with none; and warm and protective clothing to the person who has just seen their life’s work go up in flames or swept out to sea.”
In addition to funding the efforts of the American Red Cross, the United Way has formed an organization called Community Organizations Active in Disaster (COAD) to better prepare the community for emergencies.
“After a disaster hits, there is a long-term recovery period,” said Stephanie Grimes, public health coordinator for the Madison County Health Department. “I think the benefit of COAD is that we have not only done a lot of planning, but have started to do exercises. Not many other communities have. I applaud the United Way for all the work they are doing in Madison County because it is not happening everywhere else.”