Braving the Storm: Deployment During A Pandemic

By: Kevonne Bennett

In Early June, Southeastern Pennsylvania Region’s very own Larry Daly was one of the few Red Cross volunteers deployed as part of a special team, positioned to assist states on the ground ahead of Tropical Storm Cristobal. Because of COVID-19, where possible, disaster workers are being deployed virtually to provide support, but in certain cases, disasters are still being sent in person while following enhanced safety protocol.

Daly deployed to Baton Rouge, Louisiana as part of a jump team tasked with preparing shelter kits ahead of the storm’s landfall in the state. His day-to-day activities included working in a warehouse, supplying protective equipment such as masks and gloves. The team held meetings in the following days. Thankfully, TS Cristobal did not impact the area as heavily as predicted.

While there, the team saw minor damage in the area. Daly described the damage as mostly flooding in the bayou and countryside. “We only got some rain and wind in the area I was at in Baton Rouge,” said Daly.

Daly is a veteran Red Crosser, having deployed more than four times before TS Cristobal. His first deployment was during the Great Flood of 1993. Daly had been asked to assist with the damage assessment of St. Joseph, Missouri. The situation had been a bit unnerving as Daly recalled how the area flooded twice, requiring a second assessment. But he remained focused on “being there to help the clients.”

Even at the time of his first deployment, he had been no stranger to heroic service. Daly had been a volunteer Fireman in Abington, PA where he met a nurse volunteering with the Red Cross. She encouraged Daly to consider joining the organization as a volunteer. Daly would go on to join the Red Cross, where he has been volunteering for several years.

Although the coronavirus continues to be a risk, Daly did not hesitate to help those in need. He explained his decision to deploy in person, stating that somebody has got to do it. Daly personifies the mission of the American Red Cross to prevent and alleviate human suffering in the face of emergencies.

The Red Cross continues to take extra measures to keep both clients and its volunteers safe. Before the Coronavirus, shelters would often have a staff of twenty people. Now due to the pandemic, Mr. Daly says that shelter staff are limited to roughly 4-6 people. Direct contact with those displaced is limited unless truly necessary.

Daly has been home for a few weeks now, and says he remains ready to help the Red Cross at a moment’s notice.

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