Bryn Mawr resident and attorney Randall Gort began volunteering with the local chapter of the Red Cross about a year and a half ago when he was looking for ways to give back to his community.
Gort has recently expanded his volunteer efforts to national emergencies, he said from Florida in a phone interview with Patch. Gort arrived in Florida on Friday to assist with the impending Tropical Storm Isaac, which is soon expected to become a hurricane.
Locally with the American Red Cross of Southeastern Pennsylvania, Gort has been involved on a disaster action team. Each team responds to crises like fires and other emergencies where a resident or owner is displaced, Gort said. The team makes sure the victims have shelter, at least one change of clothing and that their first-aid needs are met.
When something cannot be handled as a local emergency, it becomes national, as with the impending Isaac storm, he explained.
Gort then began training to qualify for various positions involved in larger-scale disasters, he said. His first national deployment was over Fourth of July weekend to a rural community in central West Virginia, where five counties had been devastated by windstorms. There, Gort and six others manned a shelter set up in a high school for about 80 people, he said.
He'll also be working at a shelter in Florida, at least initially, he said.
"My experiences have been very positive," Gort said. "When you’re in a situation like this, there’s no alternative; they have no place to go... If the Red Cross hadn’t been there, I don’t know what they would have done."
Gort emphasized the Red Cross' ongoing need for funding and volunteers.
"You take an entity like the Red Cross—and the mission that it has is so necessary," Gort said. "And yet, it’s running on a budget too."