Local News

Smithfield Home to Red Cross Volunteer Command Center

Posted October 11, 1999

— The Hurricane Floyd relief effort is so massive, the Red Cross has set up headquarters in Smithfield where thousands of volunteers have a central command post. On Market Street in Smithfield, inside the former Belk department store, you can see your donation money hard at work.

"It wouldn't do the Red Cross any good to establish relief headquarters in Raleigh because that's not where the victims are," says Jack Mackey of Red Cross Public Affairs.

Mackey provided a tour of the facility, starting with the administration area where many decisions are made.

Family services "handles the one-on-one interviews with the victims, the clients of the hurricane," says Mackey.

The Red Cross even has a mental health station with trained professionals.

"People need counseling after a traumatic event like a hurricane," he says.

Records and reports handles the paperwork that is generated. "There's just tons of paperwork," he says.

Mackey points out that every work station in the building has a nickname. Grand Central Station, Bureaucracy Boulevard, and Cash Corner are just a few.

As the day ends, everyone gathers at Logistics Square to talk about the accomplishments of the day.

Each section has a function, each person a job. The relief base is run like the headquarters of a small company.

The debriefing is the final process for volunteers when they complete their tour of duty.

Ray Clark, a field volunteer from Murray, Ky., has been in North Carolina for three weeks.

"The lady, when I told her it was my last day, come out and hug ya and tears come run down her face, it was worth the whole trip," he says.

Up to 7,000 volunteers are dispatched from the Smithfield headquarters on a daily basis.

The Red Cross operates solely on your donations. Reporter: Barbara Cain

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