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IBEW Locals and Members Assist In Louisiana Disaster Recovery

September 2001 IBEW Journal

Countless IBEW locals across the country have for years opened their union halls to assist the Red Cross in recovery projects when natural disaster strikes a community.

When tropical storm Allison struck the Baton Rouge, Louisiana, area in early June, Local 995 carried on a longstanding IBEW tradition of emergency community service.

American Red Cross Labor Liaison Officer Carol Sizemore said, The union hall had been the home of many, many hurricane watches in the past and they knew the process well. They quickly cleared out their meeting hall and, with typical southern hospitality, the leadership went above and beyond the call of duty to help the huge operation get set up.

The Local 995 union hall had been previously wired for phone lines to drop from the ceiling, as part of a Disaster Response Network project that the AFL-CIO Community Services program established for areas frequently affected by disasters. Its so helpful to have a site approved and wired prior to when a disaster hits, said Sizemore, and union halls tend to be ideal. She noted that having a pre-approved site saves the couple of days it takes to find a site large enough to use as a headquarters, a service center, or a shelter.

Thanks to IBEW Local 995, we were able to get up and running very quickly, said Sizemore. Business Manager Ricky Russell and President Earl Long were wonderful in securing anything we needed and put up with the many volunteers and staff for nearly two weeks.

The IBEW had another presence on the Baton Rouge disaster recovery effort. Milo Ball, a retired member of Local 306 out of Akron, Ohio, was on the job working on logistics. Soon after his retirement from Loomis Electric Inc., Milo and his wife, Barbara, began doing volunteer work with the Ohio Hills Chapter of the American Red Cross in Cambridge, Ohio, where they had moved. The chapter encouraged the couple to become more involved, and soon they began serving on national disasters.

Milo usually works in logistics and Barbara in records and reportstwo jobs that Sizemore says are key to the whole operation.

Milo said he and his wife serve with the Red Cross because, Weve had a really good life and we just want to give back.


IBEW retired member Milo Ball (standing at left) discusses logistics with the American Red Cross team at disaster operations headquarters set up at the IBEW Local 995, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, union hall in the aftermath of tropical storm Allison.