SC Red Cross volunteers working in Georgia after deadly tornadoes

Major damage is still being assessed in Alabama and Georgia. Red Cross volunteers from South Carolina are helping.
Published: Jan. 18, 2023 at 4:45 AM EST|Updated: Jan. 18, 2023 at 7:19 AM EST
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - More than two dozen tornadoes and severe storms ripped through southeast states in January, leaving hundreds of thousands without power and more than ten people dead.

Major damage is still being assessed in Alabama and Georgia. Red Cross volunteers from South Carolina are helping.

Joshua Perryman is a Disaster Program Manager who lives part-time in Aiken County and part-time on Edisto Island. He says most people think of the Red Cross just in terms of blood donations or CPR classes, but they do so much more.

“I went for a CPR class. After my CPR class that year, I said what more do you all do, I’m interested,” Perryman recalls. That evening he stayed for a disaster training course. Since then, he has been serving in various disaster relief roles for nearly nine years.

He and his current crew are working in the Hephzibah area of Georgia, where they are seeing a lot of snapped and uprooted trees causing some home damage.

“There was one area we passed by where we could see where they reset their tree into the ground, with a tractor it looked like. A lot of timber damage, trees that are twisted, they just completely look like they were wrung out like a wet towel,” Perryman describes.

He and his team perform detailed damage assessments and upload information and photos of the damage to a Red Cross database. But the network does more than just assessments. The information becomes a part of the Red Cross relief and recovery efforts.

“We have additional specialized personnel called our DMH – disaster mental health and disaster health services and we have a spiritual division as well,” Perryman says. “The Red Cross network is there for someone to talk to or have a shoulder to cry on in their worst time of need. Because we’re going out on our calls and seeing people in their worst time. They just lost possibly everything they own.”.

Perryman explains that he was once on the receiving end of the Red Cross benefits when a tree fell on his Edisto home during Hurricane Dorian.

“It snapped every rafter in the house. It doesn’t really bother me that the house got messed up because like I tell everybody, you can replace a home, you can replace valuables, but the important thing is nobody was hurt,” Perryman said of his own experience.

Perryman says the Red Cross was there for him and his family as they rebuilt. Perryman is passionate about being able to help others now. On his crew, he is training two new Red Cross assessment volunteers and is the team lead on this Georgia relief team. Perryman encourages anyone who has the time and inspiration to consider relief training and volunteering.

Click to learn more about donating to the Red Cross or becoming a volunteer.