Beginning her work day when others are ending theirs, and having no prior knowledge she would be doing so is just what Kathleen Kosmoski's job requires. The Executive Director of the Augusta Chapter of the American Red Cross was at the First Baptist Church in Thomson Thursday night, along with other volunteers, setting up a shelter for tornado victims.
"The best part is knowing that I am helping somebody in their worst time," Ms. Kosmoski said.
Ms. Kosmoski said her first priorities were to get the disaster victims out of the stormy weather and into a dry, safe location-not an easy task, she said, because people don't want to leave their homes.
Such was the case for Joe and Mary Lou Clowers, who lived behind the National Guard Armory. After they lost their house in the tornado, the Clowers' sought refuge in the Red Cross shelter.
"I'm glad they got this place here, but I don't want to go nowhere... I was born and raised in Thomson, and there ain't no place like home," Mrs. Clowers said. "I'm glad they said they would store my stuff, because I like my own stuff."
Ms. Kosmoski said the shelter had 12 victims check in Thursday night; but "after they dried off," many of them were able to find refuge with family members. In addition to the shelter, the church also served as a Service Center for the Red Cross from Saturday, March 3 until 4 p.m. tomorrow.
The Service Center provides free financial relief and counseling for victims of the tornado, after making site visits to verify and assess damage.
"We help individuals and families develop a recovery plan, so they know what to do... I think they are unsure where to begin," Ms. Kosmoski said.
According to a press release, the Thomson shelter had assisted 115 people as of Monday, March 5, served 706 meals and snacks and disbursed $23,570 in direct assistance through 99 volunteers from the Thomson and Augusta area.
"It is a blessing to help people in their time of need. We are all volunteers, and I am retired military. This is all I do," said Retired Sgt. First Class William Cleveland, as he delivered snacks and drinks to victims and clean-up crews Friday.
Donations to the American Red Cross Augusta Disaster Relief Fund can be mailed to 1322 Ellis Street, Augusta, GA 30901, or call 706-724-8481 to make a donation by credit card.
For more Red Cross information on tornado safety and preparedness, visit www.arcaug.org.