The Ohio River Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross is calling for volunteers to assist with disaster relief efforts. Volunteers are needed to help with hurricane relief after both Texas and Florida have been hit with devastating storms. The Red Cross is offering courses to prepare volunteers to work in shelters or handling bulk distribution of emergency supplies to those in need.
“Hurricane Harvey has proven to be one of the most disastrous storms to ever hit the United States, causing massive flooding and causing at least 70 deaths in Texas. Hurricane Irma followed suit by hitting Florida last weekend, creating one of the most powerful back-to-back natural disasters in recent memory,” a statement from Community Executive Debbie Smith explained.
Smith also explained the burden being carried by the Red Cross during these times.
“For the American Red Cross, this means providing food and shelter for thousands of people forced to evacuate both states during the hurricanes, and then months of providing assistance as order is restored and lives are reassembled,” she stated. “The Red Cross sheltered nearly 40,000 people at nearly 300 shelters at the height of the Harvey disaster, and has served more than 1.6 million meals and snacks. Nearly 4,000 volunteers from across the country are still on the ground in Texas, and another 2,000 in Florida, Georgia, Tennessee and Alabama helping with Irma.”
Though there are thousands of volunteers working in the South, Smith explained that there are not nearly enough. In addition to a call for volunteers, she explained that the local Red Cross is ready to help new recruits prepare to work in these suffering communities.
“While Red Cross volunteers are amazingly dedicated and devoted to helping others during these times of crisis, more help is always needed,” she stressed. “That’s why the Ohio River Valley American Red Cross is holding a “Zero to Hero” fast-track training course for new Red Cross disaster volunteers who are interested in assisting with Hurricane Harvey or Hurricane Irma.”
The Ohio River Valley Chapter is preparing to launch of massive deployment to help speed along recovery efforts.
“Participants enter the class as new workforce but leave being trained and ready to deploy in any Mass Care role,” Smith said. “The course includes instructor-led presentations on Everyone is Welcome (meeting the needs of those with disabilities or access needs), Deployment Fundamentals and Mass Care Fundamentals.”
The course, as with all disaster relief courses offered by the Red Cross, is free. However, Smith stressed that the Red Cross is not a government agency and only survives on donations.
“Anyone wishing to make a donation to support families suffering as a result of disasters such as Hurricane Harvey are encouraged to do so,” Smith commented.
The Red Cross has a variety of volunteer opportunities in addition to disaster relief. More information can be found by visiting redcross.org/volunteer.
The first hurricane response course is being taught from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sat., Sept. 16, in the Portsmouth office located at 1801 Robinson Ave. It is nearly full; however, additional classes are being planned. For more information call (740) 354-3293.
Those interested in making a donation can do so by mailing contributions to 1801 Robinson Ave., Portsmouth OH 45662, go to RedCross.org, call 1-800-REDCROSS or text REDCROSS to 90999.
Reach Nikki Blankenship at 740-353-3101 ext. 1931.