08/27/04 — Wayne County Red Cross volunteers helping in Florida

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Wayne County Red Cross volunteers helping in Florida

By Becky Barclay
Published in News on August 27, 2004 2:03 PM

Wayne County Red Cross volunteers are helping Florida's victims of Hurricane Charley get their lives back on track.

Three volunteers with the Wayne County chapter have been sent to the disaster area. Sara Frances is doing family services. Jo Peterson is doing records and reports. Jesse Waller-Jones is doing mass care. The chapter's emergency response vehicle has also been sent to Florida to help with feeding.

Because of all the damage, some of the Red Cross volunteers are having to stay in the shelters while in Florida, according to Teresa Williams, disaster services director.

It is estimated that the cleanup will cost around $50 million, said national Red Cross officials.

Power has been restored to about 92 percent of the people affected by the hurricane, but another 125,087 are still without power.

The Red Cross opened 253 shelters in Florida, serving 101,744 people as of this week. Red Cross volunteers have served a total of 1.3 million meals and snacks at the shelters.

The Red Cross has also sent 134 emergency response vehicles from across the nation to Florida.

The organization is working with the Southern Baptists to provide more than 200,000 meals and snacks each day. There are 13 kitchens throughout the area.

The Red Cross' Spirit of America, a mobile kitchen stationed in Punta Gorda, produces about 12,000 of these meals a day.

The Red Cross has opened nine centers in Florida to provide services to the victims of the hurricane. There are about 1,400 Red Cross volunteers from all over the country who are in Florida now.

The Wayne County chapter has received eight welfare inquiries since the hurricane hit. Chuck Waller, director, said it's taking time to answer the calls.

"It's not like they (Red Cross volunteers) can pull it up on a computer and find the person," he said. He said volunteers have to go to that person's home and get information.

And most of the volunteers are not familiar with the area. And a lot of street signs are gone.

"There's no electricity; there's no nothing," Waller said. "The volunteers have to physically go and look for these people."

If the person who is being inquired about is in a shelter but did not give the Red Cross permission to release that information, that makes it even harder to get information.

Mrs. Williams said people have called wanting to help the victims of Hurricane Charley, and the chapter is telling them that monetary donations are being accepted for the relief efforts.

It's "just wonderful the way the whole Red Cross is working together," she said.