Boyles Volunteers During Hurricane Dorian

Stephanie Vavra wrote this article.

On Saturday evening, August 31, 2019, CBS News reported the approach of Hurricane Dorian, poised to make landfall in the southeast coastal area in a matter of days.

"As of 5:00 p.m. EDT, the National Hurricane Center believes Dorian may hit parts of the northwestern Bahamas on Sunday[, September 1].  Storm surges there could raise water levels 15 feet above normal.  New forecasts say Dorian may spare Florida from a direct hit and make landfall over South Carolina on Wednesday or Thursday.  States of emergency are in effect for the entire states of Florida, North Carolina, and South Carolina, along with 12 counties in Georgia.  Mandatory evacuations are underway....  Hurricane Dorian, which strengthened to a Category 4 storm, is packing maximum sustained winds of 150 mph with higher gusts.  More than 20 million Americans could feel the storm's impact.  Preparations are under way to prepare for the massive storm."

The American Red Cross (ARC) is one of those organizations closely watching and preparing, so that they can provide effective assistance as quickly as possible. 

Also on Saturday, August 31, in Morrison, IL, seasoned Red Cross Volunteer David Boyles was making his preparations to assist victims of the impending hurricane.  On Sunday, he drove to ARC Chapter headquarters in Rockford, IL, to pick up an Emergency Response Vehicle (ERV.)  Tuesday morning, September 3, Boyles first expected to depart for Ohio to pick up another volunteer.  The next day, the duo would drive to a Red Cross staging area in Atlanta, GA, joining ERVs from across the United States.  However, "Due to the slow moving storm, I am not yet released to head southeast."  In emergency situations plans are made "day by day," he stated.


This will be his 20th deployment to offer onsite, volunteer service to victims of hurricanes, typhoons, floods, and tornadoes.  This is in addition to fires he responds to locally.  After he retired, "I started my training at 55; I am now 63.  After only three months I volunteered to help with flooding in the Quad-Cities.  I served six weeks on that disaster.  "I was in Washington, IL, after their tornado [on November 17, 2013,] and spent five months."

To address the aftermath of Dorian, "I will stay longer than the two-week [volunteer] requirement, likely four-to-eight weeks for sure."

The American Red Cross provides a wide range of services following a disaster.  They provide training to prepare volunteers, and Dave has qualified in multiple areas.  He is a Red Cross Volunteer, but his responsibilities are specific and significant.  As a Casework Supervisor, "casework is my primary duty."  Those impacted by the disaster are interviewed, and a plan of action is put into place to meet their needs.  He does field work, too, assessing damage.  He would like to offer people a battery charger for their phones.  "People in disasters would rather have their phone work than have a sandwich," Boyles has observed.

He might drive an ERV (van/truck) in a neighborhood, where residents have remained in their homes.  The ERVs deliver daily hot meals and check on residents.  Likely Boyles will be the "ERV Coordinator of a fleet of 25 vehicles.  I coordinate with the kitchens, develop the routes, and provide leadership to the ERV teams.  All the jobs are long; ten or 12 hours is a typical day.  We will likely sleep on a cot in a school gym, since motel rooms are scarce during the aftermath of a disaster.  When my [term] is complete, I might drive an ERV to its home chapter."

In 2015 Boyles traveled to the island of Saipan, in the U. S. Territory of The Northern Mariana Islands.  Super Typhoon Soudelor, a Category 5 storm, wreaked havoc (top photo.)  His assignment was for five weeks, and he returned to Morrison for two.  "I got a call to return and do long term recovery.  I was there nine months."

He returned to Saipan in October 2018 and volunteered for eight weeks.  Also a Category 5 Super Typhoon, Yutu had struck Saipan with winds recorded at 134 miles per hour.  Yutu was the most powerful tropical cyclone worldwide that year (lower photo.)










Dave Boyles sees his work as humanitarianism with a touch of personal adventure.

"I have led a very small-town, middle class lifestyle.  I meet people in other chunks of the world.  You meet some of the most interesting people in the world, as an American Red Cross disaster volunteer, both clients and other volunteers.  The brand of the American Red Cross is a source of constant pride for me.  We work with many awesome partners in a disaster, but the services and scope of services we provide is essential to the recovery of an area following disaster."

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