February 27, 2019 – Pat D’Alessandro with the American Red Cross of the Quad Cities and West Central Iowa provided an overview of the Disaster Relief Operation (DRO). It is similar to a business with management staff, logistics, human resources, and public relations/communications. The functional areas of a DRO are feeding, sheltering, and casework. The staff comes together in a very short time frame and may not have ever met or worked together. Also, the staff have to be housed and provided with transportation. Because services are generally being provided before set-up of a DRO, a handoff is required between the local team and new team, and local partners don’t know the people who are arriving. Finally, the staff cycles out every 2-3 weeks.

The DRO Director performs the following functions:

  • Ensures the delivery of services to clients in order to meet their immediate disaster-caused needs
  • Establishes relationships and coordinates internally with government and non-government partners for mission accomplishment
  • Ensures mutually-beneficial coordination and collaboration with community and government partners with a level of transparency that fosters trust
  • Establishes relationships and maintains daily contact with assigned elected and appointed officials
  • Provides accurate and timely information regarding Red Cross response and recovery operations to officials within their assigned jurisdictions
  • Coordinates with the disaster operation to facilitate and assist with briefings, congressional and legislative visits, and tours for officials and other VIPs

Ms. D’Allessandro also spoke of the Sound the Alarm effort related to home fires. Every eight minutes, someone in the U.S. is affected by a disaster, and the vast majority are home fires, killing more people in America annually than all natural disasters combined. Seven people are killed by home fires every day. Children, the elderly, and lower-income communities are most adversely affected. People have only two minutes to get out of a burning building. As a first responder to home fires, Red Cross wants to change the odds of survival by providing working smoke alarms in this second Sound the Alarm event on Saturday, May 4, 2019. Last year, 783 households received fire alarms in the region.