ASSE Members Lend a Hand to Hurricane Katrina Victims, Recovery Efforts

The story of Hurricane Katrina would not be complete without mentioning the hundreds of members of the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) and their families who were displaced from their homes and as well as those who have donated money, supplies and EHS expertise to assist the victims of the disaster.

Several ASSE chapters, including the Bakersfield, Calif., and the Northeastern Illinois chapters, donated $5,000 each to the Red Cross and the Salvation Army for Katrina relief efforts.

Meanwhile, ASSE members from Oregon and Washington states gave $1,000 to the Portland Red Cross and $1,000 to the Northwest Medical Teams.

ASSE members from Baton Rouge are volunteering on the frontlines, helping with their local churches and volunteering at local relief shelters.

"The Florida Boulevard Baptist Church, with help from the Judson Baptist Association, is providing over 16,000 meals a day to victims and housing to emergency power and tree crews," ASSE Baton Rouge member Mike Parker, CSP, noted.

In a letter to members, ASSE President Jack Dobson Jr., CSP, extended heartfelt sympathies to those affected by the horrific devastation of Hurricane Katrina and urged members to join together to help those in desperate need of food, water, shelter and medical attention. Dobson, in the letter, said the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is looking for EHS professionals of all types to volunteer to assist in the Hurricane Katrina-affected areas. Dobson urged members to contact the agency directly visiting http://www.volunteer.ccrf.hhs.gov.

"Any assistance you can provide, no matter how small, will help the many families displaced by this disaster," Dobson told members in the letter. "Together we can rebuild and recover."

ASSE also has provided lists of agencies such as the Red Cross that are accepting donations and supplies.

EHS Community Helping Since Day 1 of the Disaster

Dobson said was pleased with how ASSE members, EHS professionals and students have rallied quickly to help since Day 1 of this disaster.

For instance, one Western Pennsylvania member, working with friends, neighbors and work associates, gathered food and clothing for the Hurricane families that were relocated to Ft. Dawson, W.Va., and the response has been overwhelming. "So far so good. Everyone has been more than generous with their giving," ASSE member Carl Heinlein, CSP, said. "I know because my house is the drop-off point and the trailer is sitting in my driveway."

Many ASSE members' companies and members are donating funds to the Red Cross, with their companies matching individual donations and providing volunteers in the recovery effort.

In other examples of ASSE members supporting the hurricane relief efforts:

  • Chris Gaylord, a former ASSE chapter president from Orange County, Calif., is serving as a safety officer for the California FEMA Disaster Medical Assistance Team (DMAT) and is currently assigned to Biloxi, Miss. Gaylord said people and volunteers from across the United States have been bringing supplies of all varieties, including two truckloads that arrived from Maryland loaded with water and boxes of materials. The two drivers had volunteered to deliver the goods on a Sunday and headed for home as soon as the truck was unloaded, as they had to work the next day.
  • In Michigan, ASSE student members from Oakland University have coordinated a kettle drive through the Salvation Army with ASSE student members volunteering to collect donations for the victims each day. They also held a fundraising "phone-a-thon" on Sept. 9. "We all know the importance of the safety concerns that our fellow Americans will be facing during this very moment and for years too come," ASSE Student Chapter President Carolyn C. Davis said. "So I am rounding up troops who are willing to put aside themselves for a moment in time for a mission that will affect us forever."
  • In Houston, ASSE Gulf Coast Chapter members are volunteering at the Astrodome, started a major donation drive at a local church and the local Boys & Girls Clubs and are helping their fellow employees displaced by the Hurricane with supplies, food and shelter.
  • An Indiana University ASSE student member is in Louisiana with the Red Cross, where he has been heading up a 1,200-person shelter with 53 staff. He said all the safety knowledge he has ever acquired through the Safety Management course at Indiana University, Bloomington, is coming into play.
  • In Kentucky, ASSE members are volunteering their occupational safety and health expertise and time at the local hospitals receiving disaster victim patients.
  • Lester Washington, CLSD, the ASSE Hospitality Branch administrator and regional director for Marriott International's Western Region, is assisting with coordinating relief efforts for the beleaguered guests and associates that are housed in their hotels affected by the Hurricane.
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