“Just Splintered Wood Was Left"
Updated: Jan 31
By Ashley Peterson-DeLuca
Scott Hampton, a volunteer with the Nebraska & Iowa Red Cross for the last year and a half, didn’t miss the news of the tornadoes that tore across the central U.S. on December 10 and 11. He was ready when he received a call from that national recruiter late at night that the Red Cross needed him in Kentucky. He was on a flight the next morning to assess the damage caused by the storms.
The first site Hampton visited was a neighborhood in Bowling Green, Kentucky.
“I’ve been to places after tornadoes before, but the scope of this was pretty crazy. Vehicles were flipped over and embedded in houses. Some houses were just foundations and everything else was gone. Just splintered wood was left,” Hampton explains. “There are always things that don’t compute – like this house that had lost its roof and walls, but still had a little café dining set on the front porch waiting for the family to come back and have coffee there.”
On this assignment, Hampton did a damage assessment. He visits affected homes and buildings, going through a FEMA checklist to see if the building’s damage made the family eligible for Red Cross financial assistance. If they qualify, his survey gets the ball rolling to get additional support for the family.
“When I got there that first day, it was still pretty fresh. People were going through the rubble to find their belongings and the utility companies were still trying to restore power,” he says. Hampton completed 60 property assessments on the first day.
For the December tornadoes, Scott was deployed for two weeks with a team of twelve. He followed the path of the tornadoes across the state of Kentucky, where 80 people died from the storms.
“We try to move pretty quickly so people can get the help they need as fast as possible. We work sunrise to sunset,” he says. Hampton surveyed almost 400 houses, apartment buildings and trailer homes during his deployment.
His deployment stretched over the Christmas holidays. A grandfather and retired Los Angeles detective, he watched his grandson open Christmas presents back home in Iowa over Zoom.
“The satisfaction that you get is worth the effort of the training and being away from family. You know these people are in the worst days of their lives and you’re really making a difference,” he says.
To learn how you can help make a difference, let us know you’re interested in becoming a Red Cross volunteer.