Cedric Davoren is the Mass Care and Logistics Manager for the Metro NY North Chapter. In this role, Cedric leads a dedicated team of men and women to support disaster response with the supplies and resources needed to support families affected by emergencies big and small.
This past September, when historic and devastating wildfires broke out in Oregon, Cedric deployed for a traditional two-week deployment that quickly extended to two months.
On September 15, Cedric headed out to Oregon – which he describes as a beautiful place – to be the Logistics lead for four districts. During a Disaster Relief Operation (DRO), Disaster Logistics oversees transportation, facilities, supplies, equipment and technical support. The team is focused on ensuring safety and security for all disaster relief activities so that attention can be given to service delivery. And as the definition states, Cedric did a little bit of everything.
“I made sure we got resources to the people who needed it,” he said.
This was not Cedric’s first deployment, but due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, it was different. Many tasks were handled virtually with only about 150 logistics and mass care team members on the ground, just a fraction of what a disaster of this size would usually deploy.
Cedric is proud his colleagues from the Northeast Division of the Red Cross played a big role in helping in the Cascades Region.
“Our Division was a big asset. We had folks from Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Philly – a really good crew and a really great push to help across the country,” he said.
Cedric also had the chance to work with some of his colleagues from the Greater New York Region. Travis Tam from the GNY Volunteer Services Department teamed up with Cedric to start an event-based volunteer (EBV) program. They recruited and trained 25 residents who lived nearby and wanted to help.
While away, Cedric kept in touch with his family and friends via social media. Through his daily posts, he would share photos of Oregon as well as innovative service delivery tactics that the team developed to make sure everyone, both Red Cross team members and impacted residents, stayed safe.
In one post he shared, “We had another great day at the Immediate Assistance Roadshow. The program is to assist the individuals and families that were affected by the wildfires. We did a drive through where the resident would call the caseworker at their station … and then attach their documents to a clipboard. Logistics came up with the idea with the hook and clipboard to assist in social distancing. Doing it this way made it really easier for us to assist in a timely manner.”
One day of his eight-week deployment that Cedric will always remember involved a man who was laying on the ground near the office and seemed to be in distress. A volunteer called 9-1-1 and before the police arrived, Cedric spoke with the gentleman to understand what was going on. He offered some water and snacks to help make him feel comfortable. The police officer noted the level of kindness Cedric displayed and said, “Thank you. Not everyone would have done that, shown that kindness.”
In retrospect Cedric says, “You have to be kind. We talked a lot about being kind every day during this deployment. People lost so much [in the wildfires], and it is so hard to adapt after a disaster like this.”
On November 15, after eight weeks away, Cedric returned home. He was met at the airport by a volunteer, and the first thing he did: go sit in his office in Middletown, NY.
“I was glad to be back. I missed everyone. The team made me a card. I feel so blessed to have the support of the men and women of the Metro New York North chapter. I could go to Oregon for so long because I knew the volunteers here are well trained and dedicated. I can’t find men and women like this team anywhere else,” said Cedric.
Thank you, Cedric, for all that you do to support the mission of the American Red Cross.
To sign up to become a logistics and mass care volunteer, visit www.redcross.org/gnyvolunteer or contact your volunteer manager.