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…


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