By Shannon Randol, intern contributor, American Red Cross
It’s safe to say Texas is officially out of the drought. The Red Cross has had 2,293 disaster responders including volunteers and staff working to keep Texas afloat the past few months, and only around half of these responders are from Texas.
The other half came from everywhere from Maine to Washington to help, but an island 3,700 miles away also deployed six of their own to aid Red Cross efforts in Texas.
Ryan Yamane is a Hawaiian native living in Oahu. On a blue sky day, he serves as an elected official for the House of Representatives for the state of Hawaii, and he’s done so for the past 11 years. Ryan has also worked with the Red Cross for the last 15 years.
This is Ryan’s first disaster deployment out of Hawaii. Previously, his primary function was to respond to home fires and local disasters as part of the Disaster Action Team (DAT). He worked in hurricane shelter operations from his home chapter in Honolulu, as well. He trained with FEMA to become a public information officer. As a licensed social worker, his role for the next seven days in Dallas is as a Disaster Mental Health worker.
“I pleaded to get out of Hawaii to help the people of Texas. I like working with the people,” said Ryan.
Disaster Mental Health workers go to affected areas to check on residents’ well-being and make sure people are prepared for future emergencies. They also see how families are functioning as a whole and whether they need any food, water or supplies.
As soon as he arrived in Texas, Ryan hopped on a Red Cross emergency vehicle with a group of volunteers and went to communities in danger of flooding in North Texas if more rainfall occurred. He spent the day finding homes at risk and speaking to families about how they were dealing with the flooding and if they had enough resources.
“Families were taking the flood threat seriously,” said Ryan. “They were surprised how quickly the water was rising.”
Ryan explained that it’s normal for people to be fearful or emotional when dealing with the floods. He said his job is to make sure they are prepared and aware of the options they have for assistance. Disasters are stressful, and it’s important to be aware of how everyone involved is handling the circumstances.
Ryan said lawmakers in Hawaii are looking to find new flood mitigation due to the flooding occurring throughout the entire state of Texas.
The Red Cross is thankful for all the support it has received with this continuous disaster, and we thank all the volunteers who have donated their time throughout the last few months.
If you would like to donate to the spring storm victims please go to the website, call 1-800-RED-CROSS, or text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.