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DAVID MELTZER had been working for the American Red Cross just a few weeks in 2005 when Hurricane Katrina made landfall near New Orleans. As the new head of the international services department, Meltzer technically wasn’t responsible for disasters on the domestic front. But the storm’s level of devastation called for an “all-hands-on-deck” response, says Meltzer. “It was the proverbial baptism by fire,” or in this case, by water.

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