This is a post by Danelle Schlegelmilch, a Red Cross worker who deployed to Mapleton, IA to help with the tornado response.
Every disaster that I deploy to with the Red Cross may be different but they are all the same. Actually there are probably more similarities than differences in most disasters. Sure the storm, location and situation are different; but the one thing that I see again and again is the resilience of the human spirit.
People who have just lost all of their earthly possessions not worried about themselves or how they will get by- but worried about their family, neighbors and friends. Communities banding together with one cause: to make it through the day.
Another common thread between disasters is the Red Cross. More specifically: the volunteers that are the Red Cross. The amazing people who drop everything and tramps through rain, snow, heat, mud, floods and ruble to offer assistance along with a warm embrace and a glimmer of hope.
I spent most of this week in Mapleton Iowa observing just this. Mapleton might not be big enough to be on most maps of Iowa, but this mighty town of 1,200 souls has left its mark on my heart. Nearly half of town suffered damage from Saturday night’s EF3 tornado that ripped through several counties. Never in my life have I seen such damage. The only way I can describe it is mind-boggling.
One of the first things I noticed when I pulled on to Main Street was the presence of the Red Cross. And I was told that it was the presence of the Red Cross’ volunteers everywhere they turned that made this town’s heartbreak a little more bearable. They knew that when they saw that Red Cross on someone’s vest that it meant help was here.
I feel like the luckiest girl on this planet that it’s my job to get to experience this small miracle first hand. I have said it before and I’m sure I will say it again but I am always completely humbled by the human spirit in the times of disaster.
When I pulled out of town today to head home I drove past a hand painted sign that said, “The city of Mapleton thanks you.” I immediately smiled thinking of the many wonderful people that I met this week and how I should be the one thanking them.
Thanking them for the opportunity to be part of something bigger than myself, part of their community of hope.