The mission of the American Red Cross has always been to help prevent, prepare for and respond to disasters and emergencies – and to do so on a local level with neighbors helping neighbors.
As part of that commitment, Communications Manager Mike Flanagan with the Heart of Missouri Chapter in Columbia told The Mexico Ledger that the organization needs to make every effort to be financially responsible during these challenging economic times.
The Audrain-Montgomery office in Mexico closed June 30. Currently the nearest offices are in Jefferson City and Columbia.
"After thoroughly evaluating the position of the Mexico office within the Heart of Missouri Chapter, it became clear by closing the office there, we could reduce costs while maintaining the high level of service the Audrain-Montgomery county area has come to expect," Flanagan stated Tuesday in an email.
He added: "These types of decisions are not easy, but the main point is there will be no reduction of Red Cross service in Audrain and Montgomery counties." By consolidating operations from the Mexico office into the Columbia office (where the Red Cross owns the building), the Heart of Missouri Chapter "will be in a better position to serve Audrain and Montgomery counties."
Flanagan said location is only one aspect of a strong disaster response plan. "Equally important are our community partnerships and connections, which remain strong in Audrain and Montgomery counties.
In the event of a disaster, Flanagan said, Red Cross has volunteers who are trained and ready to respond where and when they are needed. The Columbia office is staffed five days a week. The Mexico office was open only two days a week. The agency also relies on its community partners to help Red Cross clients.
If there is a need, the Red Cross can be contacted at its toll free number (866) 815-2738, or at the Columbia office at (573) 445-9411. Monetary donations can be sent to chapter headquarters at: American Red Cross Heart of Missouri Chapter, 431 E. McCarty St., Jefferson City, Mo. 65101.
The Heart of Missouri Chapter, Flanagan said, will still have the same community partners in Mexico. The chapter partners with any agency willing to help after a disaster. Those include the Human Services Council, Audrain County COAD, Handi-Shop, Inc. and area fire departments and churches.