By Amy McCray
When Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast in 2005, Sharon Andrews of Spokane, WA responded to the call from the Red Cross to help those in need. She has been volunteering ever since.
Most recently, Andrews’ vast experience in disaster services technology helped local Hawaiian chapters in August 2016. She deployed to Waikiki when Hurricanes Madeline and Lester threatened their shores.
When disasters strike, the IT department rushes on site to set up a communications center and build infrastructure enabling responders to act. Highly trained specialists set up computer operating systems, providing networking, inventory tracking and radio communications.
Installing this equipment is vital to relief efforts: hundreds of laptops, phones and printers must be set up and distributed so that the crews can do their tasks.
Working within the disaster services technology team, Andrews says, “our clients are the volunteers. We provide the infrastructure and equipment that is needed for the volunteers to serve the clients who are directly affected by the disaster.”
In Hawaii, Andrews and her team were able to help the local chapters on IT related issues and train them on national equipment.
She says, “It was a great experience to be able to deploy to such a beautiful island and leave without any destruction. The chapter in Waikiki has a great team and I enjoyed working with them … seeing the smiles on volunteers faces when they are given the tools they need to help the clients,” is her reward, she added.
“Being a part of the process when the Red Cross meets the needs of the clients is what is worthwhile.”