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Spell returns from aftermath of Hurricane Matthew

By Rylan Boggs

Blue Mountain Eagle

Published on October 26, 2016 2:03PM

American Red Cross volunteers, from left, are local Disaster Action Team (DAT) leader Joan Bowling of Canyon City, DAT coordinator Cindy Morman of Bend, Mark Chism of Otter Rock with disaster services and DAT member Jim Spell of John Day. Spell recently returned from North Carolina, where he managed Red Cross shelters for victims of Hurricane Matthew.

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American Red Cross volunteers, from left, are local Disaster Action Team (DAT) leader Joan Bowling of Canyon City, DAT coordinator Cindy Morman of Bend, Mark Chism of Otter Rock with disaster services and DAT member Jim Spell of John Day. Spell recently returned from North Carolina, where he managed Red Cross shelters for victims of Hurricane Matthew.

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American Red Cross volunteer Jim Spell talks with Cheryl Berry at a health fair event in Grant County earlier this year. Spell recently returned from North Carolina, where he managed shelters for victims of Hurricane Matthew.

Eagle file photo

American Red Cross volunteer Jim Spell talks with Cheryl Berry at a health fair event in Grant County earlier this year. Spell recently returned from North Carolina, where he managed shelters for victims of Hurricane Matthew.

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A shelter where John Day resident Jim Spell volunteered with the Red Cross to help those affected by Hurricane Matthew.

Contributed photo/Jim Spell

A shelter where John Day resident Jim Spell volunteered with the Red Cross to help those affected by Hurricane Matthew.

Beth and Jim Spell

Beth and Jim Spell


John Day resident Jim Spell recently returned from South Carolina where he was managing and working in relief shelters, providing aid to those affected by Hurricane Matthew.

Spell rotated through four Red Cross shelters, two of which he managed, in schools and a detention center. The shelters provide people with basic necessities, food, clean clothing and a place to sleep.

The parts of South Carolina Spell visited did not receive the brunt of the storm’s force. Spell dealt with flooding, rain and displaced people but wasn’t exposed to some of the destruction seen in other areas affected by the storm, he said.

Spell began volunteering with the Red Cross in 2005 during Hurricane Katrina. Since then, he has volunteered on the Canyon Creek Complex fire, the Chimney Fire in California and other disasters.

When a Federal Emergency Management Agency disaster is declared, more resources become available, something Spell said is enormously helpful. During his time working with the Red Cross, he has encountered language barriers and sometimes high expectations of people being served by Red Cross. He says sometimes people expect them to rebuild houses, drain flood waters and put out fires.

“We are the first point of providing safety and the first step towards recovering,” Spell said.

He said he volunteers because sometimes it’s the only way things can get done.

“People just have to step up to provide those services to people,” he said. “I think we have a calling, a calling to help people in need, so that’s why I do Red Cross.”







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