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Local Red Cross Volunteers on the East Coast to Help as Hurricane Sandy Approaches

http://ozarkspub.vo.llnwd.net/o37/KSMU/audio/mp3/local-red-cross-volunteers-east-coast-help-hurricane-sandy-approaches_48110.mp3

12 Greater Ozark Red Cross Chapter staff and volunteers took off over the weekend for the east coast for the initial pre-landfall deployment.

Greg Gaines, emergency services director for the local Red Cross chapter, says to date, there have been nearly 3200 people who have spent nights in 112 different Red Cross shelters across nine states…

"So even before a hurricane like this hits there's a very large need for volunteers.  So, the first round of deployments have gone out .  The hurricane is gonna hit now and then we start sending reinforcements to those that are in the field right now."

Gaines says they expect to need many more volunteers to serve once the storm hits.  He says they’ll help with sheltering and feeding…

"There'll be two types of feeding.  There'll be fixed feeding where our emergency response vehicles will deliver food to the shelters, but we also do what's called route feeding.  These vehicles are eqiupped to carry the hot food, keep it hot for 24 hours.  One person's driving the vehicle while another serves food out a window on the side to clients, to people affected by the hurricane, to first responders, law enforcement, the men  putting up the lines on the telephone poles.  We help all who are involved with a response like this."

Gaines says getting help to those in need takes a massive coordination effort.  So far, 1300 Red Cross disaster workers from across the nation have been deployed to the east coast.  160 emergency response vehicles are ready to respond and 230,000 meals are ready to be handed out…

"Our national headquarters in D.C. is amazing when it comes to getting good information from our government partners and local groups and organizations that are also involved.  The secret to something like this  is everyone working together.  No one group, agency or organization can do it all.  It takes everyone."

Gaines encourages people to go through training to become a Red Cross disaster volunteer.  He says, even though it’s too late to help with this storm as a volunteer, you can help by giving money…

"Which is probably the best way to help people.  If someone donates $5, this organization can take that $5 and turn it into a $20  food purchase.  Due to contacts with our partners and ourselves we can stretch that dollar out further to help more people."

To make a donation, visit www.redcross.org.

For KSMU News, I’m Michele Skalicky.