Before coming to the Red Cross, Brian Anderson was a policeman with the Josephine and Jackson County Sheriff's Offices for twenty five years. He supervised emergency management, often interacting with local Red Cross volunteers. When Brian retired from the force in 2012, he wanted to give back to the community. Working as a volunteer at the Southwest Oregon Red Cross Chapter was a logical choice. Learning to work in a larger organization and navigate all the new processes was initially challenging. However, Brian says that the training provided by the Red Cross certainly made things much easier.
Assisting victims of the Colorado flood in 2013 was his first major deployment. Flood waters had spread across almost 200 miles, affecting 17 counties and resulting in catastrophic conditions from north to . Over 25 inches of rain fell in five days. As soon as Brian indicated his availability, he was called to action. Within days, he flew into Denver and located the large warehouse that provided housing for all the support agencies and 30+ volunteers. It also stored the bulk of the relief supplies: blankets, cots, water, packaged meals and more. The Red Cross was to house and transport these bulk supplies to those affected by the flood devastation. Brian worked in bulk distribution for 13 days before rotating back to Oregon.
He found the operation very well organized. While this was the first deployment for many of the members of this diverse group of volunteers who were trying to learn the ropes, there was no shortage of seasoned staff and supervisors.
His recommendation to new volunteers is to take advantage of the training that is made available by their Red Cross chapter, and to be patient and flexible. These are valuable traits for victims to see, as it provides a helpful model for them.
NOTE: Brian recently returned home after participating in the relief efforts for the Oso landslide in northern Washington. There he worked with nearly 350 volunteers, approximately half of whom hail from the Pacific Northwest.