Salvation Army, Red Cross battle three-alarm fire
Walla Walla Service Extension
In the words of Joanne Reinikka, who heads the Walla Walla, Washington service extension office, April 1, 2003 is a day that she and her disaster response team will never forget. At 3:00 a.m., Joanne received a call from the local branch of the American Red Cross asking for the Army’s assistance with a three-alarm fire that had erupted at the Walla Walla Public Works Department. She immediately sprang into action.
“A three-alarm fire means that a lot of emergency personnel will be on site, which means a lot of hungry and tired people need to be fed and taken care of.”
Joanne and her disaster response team, which also included her father, her husband Eric and staff members Kemp and Myra LaMunyon arrived with the canteen at the scene of the fire at 3:30 a.m.They immediately began cooking breakfast for very grateful emergency personnel.
“This was the first time the Army and Red Cross collaborated on a disaster together and it was a wonderful experience. It was also the first time that emergency personnel in Walla Walla had received hot food cooked on site,” said Joanne.
The seed for Walla Walla’s partnership with the Red Cross was planted last September at the United Way’s Family Fun Day when staff member Myra LaMunyan was stung by a yellow jacket and sought treatment at the Red Cross’ first aid station. The relationship really blossomed at the Walla Walla Community Days festival held March 29-30 when the LaMunyans gave Red Cross personnel a tour of Walla Walla’s new canteen and offered the Army’s assistance whenever needed.
Like true soldiers, the Walla Walla team made sure all emergency personnel were fed and taken care of (even if that meant running to the grocery store a couple of times throughout the day) and didn’t leave until they had mopped up all the water that beleaguered workers had trekked in.