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Local Disaster Relief Volunteers Deploy to Saipan after Typhoon Soudelor Hits Island in Pacific Ocean

With less than 24 hours’ notice, two Ohio Buckeye Region volunteers are packing their bags and preparing to travel to Saipan after Typhoon Soudelor hit the small island of 50,000 in the western Pacific Ocean late Sunday and early Monday.

Pamela Blum of Circleville is one of the trained volunteers called to oversee sheltering. Blum, a volunteer with the Ohio Buckeye Region, has deployed to numerous national disasters during her 10 years with the Red Cross.

“I remember seeing a photo of someone in a Red Cross vest and thinking I want to do that,” said Blum. “It’s a feel good thing.”

Blum will join Dave Potter of Worthington on assignment in Saipan. Potter will volunteer his expertise in the areas of logistics and procurement on this deployment. He has deployed to nearly 40 relief operations across the country in his nine years as a Red Cross volunteer.

The American Red Cross is part of the disaster relief efforts on the island, which is a commonwealth of the United States in the Northern Mariana Islands. Hundreds of Saipan residents are in shelters after high winds and flooding damaged homes. Some roads remain impassable, and power and water services are also challenging relief operations. Keith Parrill, Senior Disaster Program Manager with the Ohio Buckeye Region, will also accompany Blum and Potter. He will serve as a government liaison while on the ground in Saipan.

“It’s just a remarkable experience. I came back from Hurricane Sandy with such a lump in my throat and tender place in my heart,” said Parrill. “I realized this is where I need to be.”

About the American Red Cross

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.