Monthly Archives: October 2009

The 2009 Atlanta Floods: A Red Crosser’s Reflections

Cobb Civic Center day shift volunteers with Atlanta Falcon Jamal Anderson

Red Cross shelter volunteers (day shift) with Atlanta Falcon Jamal Anderson (center)


Just now wrapping up 3 weeks of  almost ’round the clock Red Cross public affairs flood duty. Although the last 21 days– give or take— are a blur, there are some very poignant and powerful moments, events and people who we won’t  soon forget. We’ve listed a few of them below:

-The many thousands of  Red Cross clients who turned to the Red Cross as a  post- flood lifeline and who managed to stay hopeful and encouraged that things would get better.

-The Cobb Civic Center shelter visit by Vice President Joe Biden who proclaimed that  “The Red Cross is doing God’s work.”

-The visit to the Cobb Civic Center shelter by Atlanta Falcon Jamal Anderson, who provided gift cards to shelter residents; “Twinkles” the Clown and representatives from the Build-A-Bear toy company who provided a temporary escape for our smallest shelter residents; representatives from Best Buy Electronics company who set up two flat screen TVs so that shelter residents could stay abreast of the latest flood relief information; the procession of media representatives who told the heartrending stories of our shelter residents and of the work that Red Cross volunteers were doing to help them to recover.

-Our government and community partners who helped us to meet  the needs of our friends and neighbors who were displaced by historic flooding.

-Lastly, the 800+ Red Cross volunteers who put their lives on hold to travel from far and near so that they could  help complete strangers when they needed it most.

In retrospect, we consider it an honor to be affiliated with an organization like the Red Cross– an organization which embodies and showcases the very best qualities of humankind. We also marvel at the dexterity with which Red Cross volunteers— the best of the best— are able to launch and sustain a disaster relief operation and inject hope into the lives of  those who’ve lost most if not all of their worldly possessions. In closing, we tried to think of an analogy that would do justice to the Atlanta flood relief effort and we think that we came up with a pretty good one-

Witnessing the  Red Cross flood  relief operation was like listening to a well led and highly skilled  symphony orchestra. Each volunteer knew his/her role or responsibility and each function, whether it was Mass Care, Disaster Assessment, Partner Services, Client Services, Disaster Mental Health, Logistics or Public Affairs, contributed to the smooth and systematic evolution of the disaster relief operation. The result was a harmonious delivery of service which served to calm, to soothe and give hope to those who suffered through one of the worst  disasters in recent memory.

To Red Cross clients we wish you the very best of luck as you begin your march on the path to recovery. To our partners and benefactors we offer a heartfelt “thank you.”  To our Red Cross volunteers we leave you with the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. who said that “a man has not truly begun to live until he can rise above the narrow confines of self- concern to the broader concerns of all humanity.” Each of you have and continue to live out those words. Until next time…


Red Cross will Transition Cobb Shelter Thursday

Red Cross volunteer Jill Bellinson discusses recovery resources with shelter resident Victorine Donahue at the Cobb County Civic Center.

In week three of the American Red Cross flood relief operation in metro Atlanta, caseworkers at the Cobb County Civic Center shelter continue to meet with families on a case-by-case basis to evaluate their disaster-caused needs, to make referrals to government and community resources and to provide emergency assistance.

By Thursday morning, when the Red Cross transitions the property back to Cobb County government and closes its shelter operation at the Center, the goal is to ensure that every resident has a recovery plan in place.

 “We’re doing everything possible to connect people with the resources they need to take that first, big step toward recovery – securing a place to live,” says Fran O’Shaughnessy, director of the Red Cross flood relief operation in metro Atlanta. “A Red Cross shelter is a short-term haven where people get emergency care, regroup, and then move on with their lives. We’re there to provide encouragement and support at every step along the way.”

 To date, the American Red Cross has opened eight shelters in North Georgia, sheltered nearly 500 people  (2,817 overnight stays), served 42,604 meals and 55,720 snacks, and distributed 7,594 clean-up and comfort kits. The Cobb County Civic Center, site of the busiest and last remaining Red Cross shelter, had 133 residents this morning, down from more than 300 residents at its peak. Vice President Joe Biden visited the shelter on September 25 and told Red Cross workers they were “doing God’s work.”

 Shelter resident Victorine Donahue, Woodstock, agrees. She came to the shelter after the first floor of the building she lives in was flooded and became unsafe. “Red Cross volunteers try to make it possible for you to get whatever help you need – they give you a start. “

According to O’Shaughnessy, any shelter client working with a Red Cross caseworker by Thursday will continue to find help for their emergency needs once the Cobb Civic Center shelter closes. “I want to assure the community and our residents that The Red Cross is still here for them,” she said.  

Disasters Change Lives, You Can Too: Here’s How to Help

Floods are among the most costly natural disasters in terms of human hardship and economic loss. You can help those affected by the floods by making a donation to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund today.  Your gift will be used to provide food, clothing, shelter, emotional support, and other emergency needs. 

 Help people affected by disasters like the current floods by donating to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund. On those rare occasions when donations exceed Red Cross expenses for a specific disaster, contributions are used to prepare for and serve victims of other disasters. Your gift enables the Red Cross to provide shelter, food, counseling and other assistance to victims of all disasters. Call 1-800-RED-CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or 1-800-257-7575 (Spanish). Contributions to the Disaster Relief Fund may be sent to your local American Red Cross chapter or to the American Red Cross, P. O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013. Internet users can make a secure online contribution by visiting

Nashville Star, Eric Lee Beddingfield, visit’s Red Cross shelter

Written and photographed by: Danelle Schlegelmilch, deployed to do Public Affairs for this disaster relief operation, from the Heartland Chapter in Omaha, NE.

This is country music sensation Eric Lee Beddingfield.
Eric is a Georgia boy who lives in Nashville now.
When he heard about the floods that ripped through his home state he wanted to help.
They drove up overnight in their tour bus to be at our shelter Saturday morning to meet people affected by the floods.
Eric and Chuck (bass player) toured the shelter and spoke with some of our guests who are still displaced almost 2 weeks later. 
The night before we had around 120 people in our cobb civic center shelter
a lot of them were families with small children.
Both our staff, FEMA and shelter residents were excited to meet Eric and Chuck and it seemed to brighten their day.
They thought it is cool that he is from Georgia and will be doing a benefit show for the Red Cross and Georgia flood victims in Nashville on Oct. 16.
Both Eric and Chuck were awesome and said how eye opening the experience was.
Eric said he is going to go back to Nashville and rally his country music troops to help these people.
They are also going to use the photos, videos and stories I have been gathering to show at the benefit show.
Thanks for being so rad guys!
It was a pleasure meeting you and being your tour guide/Red Cross escort.
Best of luck and please share these stories.
The more people know that floods arent gone when the water is, the more help we can get the survivors.

The water may be gone, but the Red Cross is not

Dwaine and Krystal Mitchell, of Austell, are just one of the families that the Red Cross continues to assist.

The Red Cross continues to provide shelter, food, mental health counseling and emotional support for residents throughout the affected areas in the Southeast, including Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee and North Carolina

 To date, the American Red Cross has provided 2,377 overnight stays from affected residents in Georgia Red Cross shelters, and nearly 175 people are still sleeping in our shelters each night. 

Shelters Currently Open in Georgia:


Cobb County
Cobb County Civic Center
548 South Marietta Parkway
Marietta, GA 30060

Since flooding began, 717 Red Cross volunteers and staff have been working in affected areas to support the disaster-caused needs of clients.

Red Cross damage assessment is now complete. Reports indicate that 2,862 homes in Georgia have been affected; 781 of which are destroyed, 765 with major damage, 692 with minor damage.

The Red Cross has provided 47,556 bulk items including bleach, comfort kits, clean-up kits and bottled water. The Red Cross is working with emergency partners in hard-hit communities to establish Distribution Centers for these items, which will be replenished throughout the day (Monday-Friday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.):

Powder Springs Police Department
4483 Pineview Drive
Powder Springs, GA 30127 

Austell Shopping Center
5875 Love St.
Austell, GA 30168 

Westridge Church
3522 Hiram-Acworth Highway
Dallas, GA 30157


The Red Cross to date has opened 7 shelters in Georgia where affected residents have found a safe place to stay, hot meals, emotional support and help with emergency medical needs. (We have served 29,708 meals and 27,755 snacks.)

You can help people affected by disasters like the current floods by donating to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund. On those rare occasions when donations exceed Red Cross expenses for a specific disaster, contributions are used to prepare for and serve victims of other disasters. Visit or call 1-800-RED-CROSS. Contributions to the Disaster Relief Fund may be sent to your local American Red Cross chapter or to the American Red Cross, P. O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013.