American Red Cross Disaster Services Coordinator Coy Prichard said his agency now has a greater presence in the county.
“The Red Cross in Harlan County has had good times and bad times and I’m estimating in recent years mostly bad times,” said Prichard during the Harlan County Chamber of Commerce meeting on Wednesday. “All of that is changed now.”
He told the chamber membership that “My goal is to get down here and give assistance within three days. I now have two ladies who are trained and providing assistance for the county. (Harlan County Emergency Management Director) David (McGill) gave me six records this morning that they have worked on in the last few weeks. Now, the county is getting assistance within hours. We’re making progress in Harlan County. As I get more organized and get more volunteers our numbers in Harlan County will go up.”
Prichard said he was hired three and a half years ago and the Red Cross has been through “three major reorganizations since that time.”
“We kind of wanted to be everything to everyone … and that broke the Red Cross,” said Prichard. “Right after Hurricane Katrina, we didn’t file bankruptcy because the bank bailed us out, but we were bankrupt. Right now, we’re ready to pay off an $8 million debt from Katrina.”
Prichard said the American Red Cross is responsible for support to the armed forces and disaster relief. He said that is their “marching orders from Congress.”
He added the Red Cross is an organization, but is now being run like a business, which didn’t happen in the past. He said 90 percent of the Red Cross is volunteers.
As a community, everyone can help, Prichard said. He encouraged everyone to have an emergency plan.
“We need shelters, a partnership with businesses and volunteers. We can never have enough,” said Prichard. “Harlan County has improved tremendously in the past eight months, but we’re not going to stop developing and growing. We’re going to try and be better.”
Prichard said anyone wanting to become involved with the Red Cross “in any way,” may contact him (606) 878-6333 or (859) 893-2395. You may also email at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit their website at www.redcross.org/bluegrass.
Prichard added all Red Cross disaster training is free of charge.
Reach Nola Sizemore at 606-573-4510, ext. 115, email@example.com