I think it’s safe to say that the word “disaster” takes on a whole new meaning when regarding individuals that are directly involved and experiencing a crisis first hand. Around 6:40 on the evening of Saturday, August 24, Arnold Windham’s life took a turn when disaster struck his apartment complex, Camden Crossing. For Windham, what seemed like just a normal night of relaxation after a hard days work, quickly spiraled into an event of utmost unexpectancy. Unlike other residents of the local Raleigh apartment complex, Windham was home when the fire first arose, subsequently making him a direct witness of the tragedy. Like any other individual who has ever experienced some sort of scenario involving a state of panic, it can be challenging to recall the exact details that took place. Windham expressed that his recollection of the events comprising that evening are somewhat scattered, but most definitely existent. His story consisted of him watching television, when suddenly he heard the dreadful ringing of the smoke alarms. Succeeding his initial detection of the fire, Windham instantly grabbed his kids and girlfriend and dialed 911. His concern was not just in regards to himself and his family, but also for his fellow residents. He showed this through his actions of running up to the second floor to make sure that others were aware of what was happening while evacuating simultaneously.
As residents departed from the buildings and the fire started to subside, the American Red Cross began to arrive to help aid victims in a multitude of different ways. Onsite was said to have provided water, food, and assurance that everything would be alright. Windham expressed his gratitude for the Red Cross saying, “they provided a lot of structure and comfort and helped us think about the future and what needed to be done to help us recover from the disaster”. With bags of toiletries, all sorts of food items, cars to go get clothes and two nights of stay at a hotel included as a part of Red Cross assistance, victims, including Arnold Windham, described the help as overly sufficient. When asked to describe the nature of the aid provided, Windham used two words; compassionate and more than adequate. He made a point to convey the fact that the Red Cross was “very considerate of each person’s situation. I noticed this when they were asking what medications people take and helped them get access to them, as well as when I heard volunteers asking about victims pets and handing out food for their animals.” Overall, Arnold felt that the amount of help provided confirmed a lot about how community needs are met and how the existence of organizations, such as the Red Cross, helps foster more community involvement wherever they become involved. After speaking with Windham regarding his overall personal experience with the disaster, his appreciation was made apparent by his new urge and inclination to become a volunteer for the Red Cross.
By: Gillian Danze, Red Cross Intern
North Carolina State University