Local volunteers on standby
By Becky Barclay
Published in News on May 22, 2013 1:46 PM
The Wayne County chapter of the American Red Cross is on standby to send local volunteers and its Emergency Response Vehicle when notified by the national headquarters.
Interim director Tammy Forrester said 27 ERVs left at daylight Monday for Oklahoma to provide assistance to the tornado victims.
Regional Red Cross CEO Bill Brent said most of those ERVs came from states nearest to Oklahoma and from areas in the state that were not affected by the tornado.
"We try to deploy the resources that are closest first," he said. "Texas probably has the largest ERV inventory than any other state.
"Sometimes the Red Cross deploys ERVs from close by, then rotate the ERV volunteer teams from other states."
"They haven't called for our ERV yet, but I'm pretty sure they will, especially since more bad weather was on the way Tuesday to Oklahoma," Mrs. Forrester said.
"National started down a call list for volunteers to fly out to Oklahoma and they put others on standby. As things unfold and we realize what the needs are, more people will be called in to do the specific jobs they are trained to do."
The first Red Cross volunteers on the scene Monday night opened up a shelter in Moore, Okla., Brent said.
"Feeding has started," he said. "The ERVs are going out to do mass feeding and bulk distribution," he said. "The ERV drivers are also trained in damage assessment so while feeding people, they are also recording what they are seeing and sending that information back to the folks in charge of operations and that will help them determine what needs there are in that community."
Brent said the ERV teams can also answer victims' questions and direct them to other services available, such as fixed feeding sites, shelter locations and FEMA locations.
Also on the ERV will be a trained professional who can help the victims with emotional support.
"It's pretty amazing to see the Red Cross in action with a disaster like this," Brent said.
Other organizations are working hard, too.
The local Salvation Army likely won't be sending its personnel or mobile feeding unit to Oklahoma.
Commander Lt. Kenny Igleheart said there are already thousands of Salvation Army volunteers at the disaster site who were closer to the affected area -- providing meals and water for both victims and first responders; offering "spiritual and emotional care" to those who need it.
But the organization's local chapter is still, in its own way, joining the fray.
Donations are currently being accepted at its headquarters, located at 610 N. William St., Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
For more information about how to contribute, call 919-735-4811.
Want to help the Oklahoma victims? Donating money is the best way, local emergency officials say. Those with a cell phone can text to 90999 and an automatic $10 donation will be made. If you would like to donate more, you can take a check for any amount to the Red Cross chapter at 600 N. George St., Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.