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More than two dozen American Red Cross volunteers from Kansas and Oklahoma were sent to the Gulf Coast to aid those affected by Hurricane Laura.
The National Weather Service said Hurricane Laura was expected to develop into a major hurricane before it made landfall along the Texas and Louisiana coast.
Twenty-eight volunteers and staff of the Kansas and Oklahoma Red Cross have been deployed to help with the Hurricane Response, including at least one person from each of the region’s seven local chapters.
As the situation unfolds, it is possible that more will be deployed. It is anticipated that more than 700 Red Cross volunteers and staff from across the nation will be sent to the Gulf Coast to assist in disaster preparedness and recovery. This is in addition to nearly 500 volunteers and staff who have responded to the wildfires affecting many western states.
“We have sent several volunteers from Kansas and Oklahoma to help along the Gulf Coast and we anticipate more will be needed,” said Brittney Rochell, Regional Chief Communications Officer for American Red Cross of Kansas-Oklahoma.
“COVID-19 has affected the number of our current volunteers who are available to deploy, so we are asking healthy individuals who can deploy up to 14 days to consider joining us as a temporary disaster volunteer.”
Many of those deployed to the coast will be engaged in critical services, such as staffing shelters and assisting other responding agencies in providing food and supplies those in need. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, others have been deployed virtually to assist with the needed behind-the-scene support work that aids in the disaster response.
COVID-19 has not changed the Red Cross mission to prevent and alleviate human suffering in the face of emergencies by mobilizing the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors.
However, to help keep people safe, the Red Cross is following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and public health authorities, as well as putting in place additional precautions. Some of these plans include face coverings, health screenings, and opening more shelters that will house fewer people than normal.
Ensuring people have a safe place to stay during a disaster is a critical part of the Red Cross mission. Sheltering efforts may be different in each community, depending on local emergency operations plans.