Nadine Lavender is a longtime member of the American Red Cross Northeast Chapter. When the call went out this week for volunteers who could help in the flooded areas of the Gulf region, she jumped at the opportunity.
She is one of the more than 3,000 volunteers the American Red Cross is deploying to the region agreeing to give up two weeks of her life to help others. She will be assisting those affected by Hurricane Isaac in Mississippi.
Just traveling to the hard-hit areas is work. Lavender stayed in a in a staff shelter in Collierville, Tennessee Friday night, and is traveling to Hattiesburg, Mississippi to help the effort there. Her previous assignments have been working at the sites of the Springfield tornadoes and the Vermont floods.
As Isaac’s floodwaters recede and people begin to return to their neighborhoods, the American Red Cross is moving into community after community along the Gulf Coast, ramping up mobile feeding efforts and handing out relief supplies, while continuing to shelter those who still need a safe place to stay.
Mobile kitchens capable of making thousands of meals a day are setting up in the affected areas. Volunteers from the Southern Baptist Convention will be preparing meals to be distributed throughout communities by Red Cross emergency response vehicles in place all along the Gulf Coast. The Red Cross has already served more than 42,000 meals and snacks.
Red Cross disaster workers are handing out meals, snacks and water, they will also be distributing things like cleaning and personal hygiene items, coolers, shovels, rakes, tarps, gloves and masks as soon as it is safe to do so.
American Red Cross Northeast Chapter executive Frederica Doeringer noted that a number of North Shore residents, used to hurricanes and flooding in our region, have taken the call to volunteer in the Gulf Region hit by Hurricane Isaac. But the need is great.
“We expect to be helping with cleanup and sheltering in areas like Mississippi and Louisiana for a long time,” Doeringer said from her Peabody office. “And with the national American Red Cross spread thin after this summer’s wildfires, the need for donors is great.”
“We’re estimating that this massive relief operation for Isaac could cost as much as tens of millions of dollars, and our costs are growing by the hour,” said Charley Shimanski, senior vice president for Red Cross Disaster Services. “We haven’t raised anywhere near the millions of dollars we will need to pay for our efforts. The public has always come through when Americans needed help and we are counting on them now.”
Can you help?
DONATE. The Red Cross has more volunteers, equipment and supplies poised ready to help people in the affected areas after the storm passes. Your investment in people and resources will help this large-scale effort.
GIVE BLOOD. Tropical Storm Isaac has already forced the cancellation of some blood drives along the Gulf Coast. Depending on the storm’s path, additional blood collections may be cancelled, causing a shortfall of blood in the affected areas. All eligible donors in parts of the country unaffected by Isaac are encouraged to call 1-800-RED CROSS or visit us online at redcrossblood.org today to schedule an appointment.
VOLUNTEER. We will train volunteers not only to respond to national-scale disasters but to help when our neighbors in Eastern Massachusetts face disaster. Be they single-family home fires or a large-scale hurricane response, your hands and heart are needed.