Responding to the storm

By Melanie Ruberti

May 2, 2014

When the American Red Cross posted the need for disaster relief volunteers in Pensacola, Fla., Wednesday night, Doodle Eubanks answered the call.

Eubanks, a Disaster Action Team volunteer with the Georgia Three Rivers chapter and two other Red Cross volunteers from Macon and Columbus, Georgia, are in the Panhandle, helping to run a mass care shelter. The crew will set up dorms, plus register and feed people left temporarily homeless from the storms.

“I wanted to go,” said Eubanks. “I’ve been training with the American Red Cross for two years for situations like this.”

In fact, on Monday, Eubanks stopped by the American Red Cross to grab supplies before the storms hit, “just in case” the Georgia Three Rivers Chapter needed to open a mass care shelter. On Tuesday, he responded to a family in Meriwether County whose mobile home was crushed by a tree. Eubanks said he also set up a shelters during Hurricane Isaac and during the recent ice storms.

“I really enjoy it,” he said. ” I enjoy helping people.”

“He goes to fires all the time for us,” said Connie Hensler, the Executive Director of the Georgia Three Rivers Chapter of the American Red Cross. “He makes sure they [victims] have food, clothing, whatever they need.”

Eubanks was recently honored for his actions and presented with the Georgia Three Rivers Chapter Hometown Hero award.

Eubanks is no stranger to disasters, or the wrath of Mother Nature. He said three years ago this week, a tornado tore through the town of Manchester, Georgia right near his home. His house sustained around ten thousand dollars in damage and ripped up close to 100 trees on his property, but fortunately, no one was hurt.

It will be a different scene for Eubanks in Pensacola. According to the National Weather Service, as of Thursday afternoon, an estimated 22 inches of rain fell in less than 24 hours in Pensacola. The water caused homes, apartment buildings, businesses and major roadways to flood; including a ten mile stretch of Interstate 10 from the Alabama state line into Florida. According to Pensacola Police Chief, Chip Simmons, a car and a truck fell 25 feet when portions of a highway collapsed from all the rain near the city’s bay front area. The flooding may also be partly to blame in an explosion at the county jail in Pensacola late Wednesday night. At least two people were killed, and 100 more were injured in the blast. Three inmates are still unaccounted for as of Thursday afternoon.

Meteorologists say the rain is from the same storm system that wreaked havoc on the midwest and south earlier in the week, spawning multiple tornadoes, including one in Northern Troup County.

But Eubanks said he’s prepared. He took American Red Cross manuals, clothes, and his trusty ARC red vest. He said he could helping storm victims in Pensacola for up to two weeks.

“We are very proud of Doodle,” said Hensler. “We are excited for the opportunity for him. But we are sad for the families and our thoughts are with them. But we are glad from the American Red Cross standpoint, that we can meet their needs.”

The Georgia Three Rivers chapter serves ten counties in our area. Next week, at least nine volunteers will travel to Macon and open a mock shelter during a statewide hurricane drill.

To make a donation or to volunteer to help people affected by disasters like the recent tornadoes and storms, visit or contact the local chapter at 706-884-5818.