The Ottumwa Courier

May 24, 2013

Ottumwan bound for Oklahoma

Courier Editor

---- — OTTUMWA — “We do this because we love it; we love helping people through those tough times.”

That’s the message from Brandon Holstrom who will travel to Moore, Okla. today to help those impacted by the tornado that has devastated that community.

Holstrom, the state client services director at the Ottumwa office of the American Red Cross, learned Thursday night that he would be making the roughly nine-hour drive to the Oklahoma City suburb.

“I’m going to assist individuals who have been affected by this tornado,” he said.

Holstrom said the process in helping those in need begins with a discussion.

“Basically it's a conversation that we go through. We ask them a series of questions. What are their needs? Clothing, food, shelter, or if they need some kind of comfort.”

As a member of the Red Cross team, Holstrom has traveled to other disaster locations in the past, however ...

“Every disaster is very different and the needs are very different,” he said, noting his years of Red Cross training will help him to the best job in assisting those who have lost so much.

Holstrom said it takes compassion and a sympathetic ear to help those in crisis.

“You can’t imagine it unless you’ve been through it yourself,” he said. “I can just offer guidance and assistance.”

Holstrom anticipates he will be in Oklahoma 2-3 weeks helping the residents of Moore.

“The days will be long, sometimes 12-14 hour days, depending on the need,” he said.

Prior to his departure, Holstrom said Ottumwans and folks from southern Iowa have shown their support, offering monetary donations and asking if they can be of service.

“Our phones have been ringing off the hook; the community has embraced [the Red Cross’ efforts in Oklahoma]," he said. “Our local support has definitely been there for the Red Cross."