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NWFL Red Cross Chapter Helping Out In Flooded Louisiana

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The American Red Cross has sent a legion of volunteers and vehicles to flooded Louisiana, for what the organization calls the worst natural disaster in the U.S. since 2012’s SuperStorm Sandy.  

“All across south Louisiana, and it has presented tremendous challenges to everyone. But I’m very proud of the effort that we’re making,” said Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards after a helicopter tour of the hardest-hit areas. 

So far at least 13 people have been killed, and authorities say as many as 100,000 homes could be damaged, or destroyed by the floodwaters. One thousand Red Cross volunteers from all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia are either in Louisiana or on the way, to run logistics and disaster services. 

“We’ve sent one Emergency Response Vehicle, and from our area we’ve sent over 30 volunteers,” said Jerry Kindle, President of the Red Cross chapter in Northwest Florida. He says their people are deployed in three different locations within the flood area, doing a number of different jobs. 

“Sheltering, driving the ERV, logistics, moving stuff around from one area to another,” said Kindle. “Staffing, public affairs, mental health counselors [and] damage assessment.”

And the volunteers from the Gulf Coast, says Kindle, have a special expertise very few from elsewhere possess.

“We have lots of volunteers with all the different skill levels required for this type of operation,” Kindle said. “Granted, the [chapters] in hurricane-strike zones have a higher number of disaster-trained folks because we have disasters more often.”

Kindle says it wouldn’t surprise him if the number of volunteers in Louisiana reaches 1,500, with 60 Emergency Response Vehicles, or “ERVs.” 

Meanwhile, this is the height of the 2016 hurricane season, and Red Cross chapters along the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coastlines are keeping an eye on a couple of disturbances in the Atlantic. 

“During hurricane season we have procedures in place to make a response outside our immediate area proportionate,” says Kindle. “A little bit differently than we would during non-hurricane season. So we maintain the ability to respond here.”

More volunteers from local chapters are getting ready to go to the flood zones. Kindle says generally speaking, they’re rotated in and out in roughly two-week increments – but that’s not a rigid schedule.

“They get there, they’re just like the rest of us,” Kindle says. “They want to do good, they want to help people, they want to save Red Cross resources. “It’s cheaper to keep a volunteer there than send one back and take another one. So many times they extend their stay.”

As always, the American Red Cross is making an appeal for the public to help out in this latest disaster. Cash donations are accepted at local Red Cross offices, such as the one on Baylen Street in downtown Pensacola. Or you can go online to www.redcross.org.