EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WEHT) – It has been a hectic string of emergency responses for the American Red Cross in recent weeks, from Hurricane Hillary on the west coast to the Maui wildfires, and now, Hurricane Idalia in the southeast.
“We’re constantly looking at which volunteers and staff members are available to deploy,” says Beth Sweeney, Executive Director for the American Red Cross’s Southwest Chapter.
Like any natural disaster, volunteers with the American Red Cross in the Evansville-region were eager to help.
“Sometimes we’ll get calls from them directly when they know that a hurricane is looming,” explains Sweeney, “or there is a natural disaster just hit a certain area and they’ll say, ‘Hey, put us on standby. We want to be able to go and help’.”
Sweeney says one of those volunteers is Joe Young, who is helping at an evacuation shelter in the Big Bend of Florida.
“We had some strong winds, lots of rain, trees blowing and limbs falling in the streets, flooding, stuff like that,” explains Young.
Young has volunteered for 18 years, and was first deployed during Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Currently, Young is helping those who have no place to go after Idalia made landfall as a category 3 storm.
“We bring out cots for people, blankets, food, water, things like that, and they do have some medical staff on hand,” says Young.
Each deployment could last up to two weeks. The Red Cross also has an emergency response vehicle stocked with supplies, ready to head to Florida if needed.
“Volunteers will be able to drive into those impacted areas and help people right on scene, says Sweeney, “Whatever kind of help is needed is what that emergency response vehicle will be used for.”
After 18 years of volunteering, Young says making a difference during a disaster is what keeps him going.
“I like to think if I was in their position, I would want a little help from someone, too,” says Young. “So I keep that in mind, and it’s really humbling the level of gratitude that these people have for whatever you can do for them. You know, like some of them have lost everything.”
Sweeney says the American Red Cross is in need of monetary donations to help cover the costs of supplies and other materials used in disaster responses. Information on how to donate can be found here. Additional help is also coming from our region. Crews from Kenergy, as well as Kentucky Electric Cooperative, traveled south to help in the power restoration efforts after Idalia.