American Red Cross training people for disaster relief locally and nationally

Yolanda Curtis
September 12, 2017

The disaster program manager for American Red Cross of Maine, Larry French, says Cyr is one of 44 people from Maine who are now deployed to help with response efforts to Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Harvey.

French says for those who want to help but can't deploy out of state, there are plenty of volunteer opportunities within Maine.

"We really love it when medical professionals come in to volunteer with us because they have a lot under their belt already", said Jen Garutti with the Red Cross.

Volunteer efforts have poured into the Houston area in response to Hurricane Harvey's devastation.

"The need is great so we definitely need people to step up and volunteer to potentially be deployed to help out with the terrible situation happening".

Amber Wood, executive director of the Red Cross chapter serving the Quad Cities and west central IL, says volunteers are normally trained in class and online over several weeks or longer.

"Locally, we have gotten numerous calls about how people can help", Pontarelli said. "Could not be prouder to volunteer for this organization", she said.

On Monday, 91 volunteers, ages 18-24, gathered at the Cedar Rapids Red Cross office to receive their final predeployment instructions before heading south this week. "Yet every time I turn on the TV, I see [the Red Cross] taking in millions of dollars in donations", he said during a city council meeting Wednesday (Sept. 6).

Tauscheck says volunteers often feel as if they get more from the experience than they give, and the retention rate for the volunteers is high.

These surges in interest are normal for the Red Cross after major natural disasters, Schaffer said. And he says there's a certain comfort in knowing ME volunteers are stepping up to help others.

Lessons were learned after Katrina devastated New Orleans, as well as the coasts of Louisiana and Alabama, in 2005. Volunteers must commit to being deployed for at least 14 days and be ready to deploy within 48 hours after being assigned.

Once the class is completed, the average deployment can last about two weeks. "You don't know what to expect", said Fellmet, who returned home Saturday. "Location and assignments can change at any time, depending on the need and you may not be in an areas with cell phone service so, make sure your family knows that".

For those who chose to stay home and still wish to help, organizations are asking for monetary donations to the relief effort.

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