Red Cross Emergency

Small towns in the Texas Panhandle are often left high and dry when it comes getting immediate help from the Red Cross;but, that's all changing.

By this time next year, the Red Cross is hoping to set up disaster action teams in thirteen area counties, five already have them in place, and eight more are in the works.

When disaster strikes,after the ambulances and fire trucks have made their way to the scene, in most cases the Red Cross usually follows not long after.

But if you live in a smaller town, that Red Cross help is not always available when you need it most and that's something Tulia residents know all too well.

Swisher County Judge Harold Keeter says, "The tornado hit Tulia came in about seven o'clock on that Saturday night and it was three or four o'clock the next afternoon before we actually had people on the ground trying to get services for those that had their homes destroyed."

The Red Cross, though, is hoping their new disaster action teams will make that help available sooner because the first responders will be local, and won't have to make the trip from Amarillo.

Disaster Services Director Martha Riddlespurger says, "If people are trained they can get a shelter open, they can respond to a house fire, before we even have time to get there."

A recent grant from Wal-Mart is allowing the Red Cross to pay for training and supplies to stock shelters in all thirteen counties. Judge Keeter says, "We've got thirty cots that we've got in storage with blankets and pillows."

All of the local officials are on board with the Red Cross plan, but one thing is missing... You. Riddlespurger says, "We just needing concerned citizens. People in each one of these towns to come out and say I care about my community. I'll get up in the middle of the night. If something happens, I want to help."

If you would like to join the disaster action team, contact your local fire department.

The following counties DO have disaster action teams already in place:
- Potter
- Randall
- Swisher
- Sherman
- Moore

The following counties DO NOT yet have disaster action teams in place:
- Armstrong
- Deaf Smith
- Castro
- Dallam
- Briscoe
- Oldham
- Parmer
- Hartley