Accounts Payable Specialist Sarah Alexander has harbored a fascination for storms ever since she can remember. When her siblings ran to a safe spot upon hearing tornado sirens, Sarah ran to the window to watch the storm. Her love of storm chasing led her to study meteorology in college, become a certified SkyWarn storm spotter for the National Weather Service (since 1996), become the alumni mentor to the Ball State Storm Chasing Team, and most recently, volunteer as a Red Cross Disaster Action Team (DAT) first responder, specializing in tornados. The Red Cross deployed her August 25 to Kokomo, Indiana, to help people affected by the EF3 tornado that roared through that community August 24, leaving devastation in its wake.
She first stopped at the emergency shelter at the Kokomo Event & Conference Center to unload coloring books, crayons, and stuffed animals to give to traumatized children, along with more intake forms for shelter workers. She also served food from a meal distribution truck, then went door to door doing disaster assessments of heavily damaged homes. Those assessments then go to the Red Cross office in Indianapolis to be triaged to the appropriate agencies that help people rebuild their homes and their lives. Her daylong experience affected her deeply. “There are no words to accurately describe seeing tornado devastation first hand,” Sarah says. “It gives you a heightened appreciation for your blessings, to say the least.” She is also determined to complete many more Red Cross trainings, including EMT training, so that she can give back to communities when they need it most. “By allowing me to make a difference as a tornado first responder, the Red Cross is also making a difference in me,” Sarah adds.
Note: All photos with this article were taken by Sarah.