GREENWOOD VILLAGE – Agencies across Colorado have deployed people to Texas to help relief efforts, however, some of the more immediate help is coming from a woman who hasn’t left the Denver metro.
Catherine Leventhal is an American Red Cross National spokeswoman as well as a digital volunteer. She and 14 others volunteers from across the globe are working around the clock to provide people with information about their immediate needs including evacuations and sheltering.
Through social media, Leventhal finds conversations where people are asking for help, posting concerns regarding their own safety or the safety of family members as well as other needs.
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“They post their worlds online and, as you can imagine, they’re crying for help online.” she said. “They’re just desperate for assistance.”
Leventhal and the other volunteers monitor these conversations using special software. They then connect people with the resources they’re looking for.
“I answer that individual person’s very immediate need,” Leventhal said. “So we could have several conversations back and forth about what it is that they’re looking for.”
The people they help are those who don’t require 911. On Wednesday, Leventhal said she helped a woman who was running out of diapers for her child find where she could get more. The volunteers are split up into different monitoring sections including disaster assessment and mental health needs.
“We have just been slammed,” Leventhal said. “I have worked a lot of relief operations from Nepal to Sandy to Isaac but I’ve never seen such traffic like this. I’m really worried about what we’re seeing and this is going to be a long-term recovery process for this community.”
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The volunteers will help through recovery efforts but Leventhal’s role will change later this week. On Thursday, she’ll head to Houston where she’ll then be working in her capacity as a Red Cross national spokeswoman until further notice.
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