Planning and Partnerships a Critical Part of Kinston Towers Fire Response

KINSTON, NC, July 17, 2013— More than three weeks after an apartment fire displaced nearly 150 people in Kinston, the American Red Cross continues to provide support as residents prepare to return home.    Volunteers from around eastern NC have served meals, distributed supplies, and met with residents to ensure needs are cared for.IMG_1663

“Disaster assessment is critical in the beginning to determine the needs and collaborate with partner organizations to develop a plan to serve the clients,” said Victoria Kling, Regional Response Manager for the American Red Cross of Eastern NC.

The Red Cross has served as a leader for collaboration and coordination, partnering with other local organizations to ensure that the needs of residents are met while avoiding duplication of services.  This leadership has allowed the agencies to determine the expertise and ability of each organization to provide for their clients.

“I am amazed at the outpouring of offers for assistance from the local community from churches, to restaurants to sororities,” said Tammy Forrester, CEO for the Lenoir County Chapter of the American Red Cross.

Instead of having one organization take on the greatest load of work, the Red Cross convened with a number of local organizations to discuss what support they could offer in the response.  This collaboration along with the backing of a volunteer-led workforce provided the action plan for assisting residents affected by the fire.

DSC00402Important partners included the Kinston Housing Authority, Kinston Fire and Safety, Lenoir County Emergency Management, the NC Baptist Men, and the Bridge Church of Goldsboro, and Burning Bush ministries. Another great partner organization was the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority in Kinston and Goldsboro who made snack packages for the residents.

A key relationship during disasters is the long-standing partnership between the American Red Cross and the Southern Baptist Men.  During the initial response, the Red Cross worked with local restaurants to provide meals.  In order to best utilize donated dollars and provide consistency, the Red Cross reached out to local representatives of the NC Baptist Men to help to assist with feeding efforts for the rest of the operation.

The Baptist Men utilize a standardized menu which offers foods to complement a balanced diet at a cost of about $1 a meal.  The Red Cross purchases food from U.S. Foods and the NC Baptist Men prepare hot meals which are delivered to residents by Red Cross volunteers. The Kinston First Baptist Church, which has an industrial kitchen, was used to prepare the meals.

Throughout the Kinston Towers response, community members have expressed their desire to help their neighbors that have been displaced by this fire.  The Red Cross and partner organizations welcome support in the form of financial assistance and volunteer time.

“Red Cross is a family of volunteers from everywhere and the assistance is always appreciated,” said Forrester.  “Around here, one size fits all whether it is the gift of time or money.  Our clients know us and trust us to take care of them,” remarks Forrester.

As always, Red Cross assistance is free and provided to all who are in need when disaster strikes.

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