Red Cross manager heads to American Samoa

Scott Cline lent a hand to victims of flooding in Ohio a few years back.

He’s helped homeowners displaced by fire in western Colorado.

But he’s never encountered a disaster of the magnitude he’ll plunge into this month.

The emergency services program manager for the Western Colorado Chapter of the American Red Cross will board a plane Sunday bound for American Samoa, the U.S. territory in the South Pacific ravaged earlier this week by an earthquake and tsunami that killed more than 100 people and displaced thousands more. The death toll is expected to rise as crews dig through beaches and rubble.

Cline, 27, said he will spend at least three weeks co-managing a Red Cross shelter for those left homeless. While he’s there, he’ll be sleeping on a cot in the shelter and working 12- to 14-hour days.

He said there’s been a lot of publicity about the initial temblor and the towering waves of water washing over the islands, but there’s been little media coverage of the 6.5-magnitude aftershock. Heat warnings are in effect, and power could be out for several weeks to come.

“It’s still a pretty serious situation,” he said. “My girlfriend’s   a little nervous about me going over there.”

Cline, who has worked for the local Red Cross chapter for two years, is one of about 50 Red Cross employees from the United States who will offer a second round of help to tsunami victims. Red Cross workers from Hawaii are already on the islands.

“You’re in charge of people’s lives,” said David Hintch, executive director of the local Red Cross chapter. “You know you’re helping people who have lost everything.”

Cline brings with him academic credentials and professional training in mass care sheltering. He has a bachelor’s degree in emergency management from the University of Akron in Ohio.

He may not be the only Western Slope resident who heads to American Samoa.

About 20 Red Cross volunteers responded to an e-mail from Cline indicating they are willing and ready to join him if they’re called upon.

Hintch said Cline’s work will not only assist citizens of the remote islands, but also American Red Cross staff and volunteers here. “He’s going to bring back some of that experience,” Hintch said. “It’ll be great for the chapter.”

Funding to send Cline to American Samoa will come from national headquarters and the organization’s National Disaster Relief Fund. Anyone who wants to support relief operations can call 970-242-4851 or visit http://www.redcross.org.


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