BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — About a dozen Red Cross volunteers from Alabama are currently in Louisiana helping people affected by Hurricane Laura.
The volunteers were originally deployed to the Alabama and Mississippi coasts when it appeared the storm might hit there. When the storm changed track, they left for Louisiana, knowing people there would likely need assistance.
“They’re going to wake up, and they’re going to realize that their home is gone or their home is flooded and they can’t get back in there,” Red Cross marketing director Annette Rowland said. “And you’ve got to imagine the emotions that go through someone’s mind when that happens. And sometimes all you need is someone to be there and tell you, ‘it’s horrible, it’s horrible. But we’re going to make sure that you’re taken care of.'”
The volunteers arrived in Louisiana before the storm hit to set up shelters. Now, they’re caring for people in need, as well as providing food and medical assistance. It’s something they’re well prepared for even during the age of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We train all year for things like this, and hurricane season is never a surprise – we know it’s coming,” Rowland said. “And we knew it was going to be more difficult this year with COVID in the mix, so we made sure that we had our volunteers trained and that they were ready.”
Fewer Red Cross volunteers are available now because of the pandemic. Rowland said some of their usual volunteers aren’t able to take the risk of providing assistance now, and others may have family obligations or school children at home.
“Our volunteers are amazing, compassionate, dedicated people that would love to deploy all the time, but sometimes it’s just not possible,” Rowland said. “So we have been trying to recruit more volunteers and make sure that we are utilizing our workforce to the best of our ability right now.”
Rowland said they can use volunteers with any skill set, and they can find jobs for anyone who’s willing to help. She said it’s possible they’ll need assistance for other storms before hurricane season ends.
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