As wildfires rage in the west, Iowans are there to help. One of them is Red Cross veteran Jimmy Payne, who works as a Human Relations Officer.He works to tell everyone, regardless of who they are, that the Red Cross is there, and make sure they can all receive the agency’s help. Payne works with the aged, handicapped and other groups that need special attention like minority populations.He says there are a lot of Hispanics around Durango, and a nearby Ute Indian reservation. The challenge in reaching different groups is not necessarily speaking their language.Payne says you just hire an interpreter, but he says it’s a challenge working with people from different cultures. For example, he says the authority of the tribal council is the only way to contact the Indian residents, and Hispanics often are very wary of accepting help for fear they’ll be deported. Payne says the Red Cross vehicle that offers food and drinks can only go a certain distance near the “fire line.”He says their “big work” anyway is in town, helping relay messages to and from people evacuated from the fire zone. Payne’s no stranger to emergencies — he says since he began working with the Red Cross, this is his 67th disaster.
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