Red Cross, tornado victim show how to act after a home disaster

Glenn Carr's home was destroyed after a tornado toppled a tree on top of it. The Red Cross offers tips on how to recover from disaster / Evan Watson (WGXA)

MACON, Ga. -- When disaster strikes your home, what should you do next?

Glenn Carr was just feet away from death when a tornado knocked over a tree into his house during a severe storm on April 5.

“The tree not only went through the top of the house, the bulk of the tree went straight to the floor of the house,” Carr exclaimed in the rain outside of his house on the day of the disaster.

The Red Cross arrived within the hour, offering Carr a prepaid card for emergency needs. Red Cross Executive Director Connie Hensler said it’s a typical form of disaster relief.

“It’s really just going to be meeting those immediate needs which are typically food, clothing and shelter,” Hensler said.

But what should you do when disaster strikes? Hensler said it all starts with preparation.

“The better prepared we are before something happens, then the better we are to cope and recover when something does happen,” she said.

The Red Cross promotes an easy process to help with preparation: Get a kit, make a plan and be informed.

That means preparing an emergency kit with food and water, having copies of important documents like IDs and birth certificates, and being able to grab medicine and prescriptions on your way out the door.

Hensler said the Red Cross partners with organizations like the Salvation Army, Goodwill and United Way to provide comprehensive disaster relief.

“There isn’t one agency that can do everything in helping a family completely recover,” Hensler said. “We have to have great community partnerships.”

Glenn Carr didn’t have insurance on his home that he’s lived in since 1958. Hensler said that could be a mistake and stresses the importance of insurance.

“We would really suggest to everyone please check in to renter’s insurance,” she said. “You never know when something could happen and just having that coverage and being able to rebuild from that aspect is so important.”

This is especially important when it comes to what you value in your home, which Carr is very aware of now.

“What’s precious to you might not be precious to anybody else,” Carr said. “But [those things] are precious to you and definitely irreplaceable.”

With the rise of crowdfunding sites along with the generosity of neighbors, Hensler said she sees the good that volunteers do on a daily basis. She adds you shouldn’t be afraid to accept help from the community.

“We live in a wonderful place where our community does pull together so I think that’s a really great thing,” she said.

The community helped Carr back on his feet. He said even his high school teacher tracked him down to offer him money.

“I wish I could express it, nobody knows and nobody understands how much it all means to me,” Carr said. “There’s no way I could express it; I wish I could.”

Hensler offers a few parting tips: In the case of a home fire know where you will meet up with your family outside of the home. This helps firefighters know if everyone is safe. Also, designate an emergency contact for your family who doesn’t live with you – that way everyone knows who to call.

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