Several teams from Iowa chapters of the American Red Cross are fanned out in Louisiana following the weekend strike by Hurricane Gustav and an emergency response vehicle from Des Moines ended up in Alabama. Rick Ruble, of Chariton, is helping run the Central Iowa chapter ERV in Birmingham, feeding thousands of evacuees who were bused there from New Orleans.
Ruble says, "It’s around 3,000 and there are the local ERV, an ERV from Massachusetts and our ERV delivering the meals and we’re trying to get out three meals a day, so we’ve got enough to do, for sure, but it’s working out well."
A rumor got around the Birmingham shelters on Monday that a levee had failed and part of New Orleans was under nine feet of water, a rumor that turned out to be false. Ruble says that initially had a lot of people depressed, but they brightened up when the true story got around — and it was determined that the damage was much lighter than during Hurricane Katrina three years ago. He says there’s another welcome change from Katrina.
"There’s not as many people separated from their families in this, in fact, there’s very little of that," Ruble says. "I haven’t had anybody walk up and ask me how to find out about where some of their family might have been split up and we’re a lot better off in this case." While he arrived in Alabama late last week to prepare for the evacuees, Ruble isn’t sure what’s next on his Red Cross assignment sheet.
"I assume I may be able to move on to another storm whether it be to help with the damage from Gustav around New Orleans and that area or whether it be to go east and help with the Hannah storm, so actually I don’t know what my future is," Ruble says, laughing, but that’s the life of a disaster volunteer. Iowans who would like to help out with donations should contact their nearest Red Cross office or call 800 Red Cross.