The Red Cross is providing critical help to thousands of people affected by the raging wildfires in the west and the massive flooding in Florida from Tropical Storm Debby.
Baton Rouge volunteer Jonathan Hammett is among 300 trained Red Cross disaster workers supporting relief efforts out west where the fires are threatening as many as 20,000 homes.
Nearly 200 Red Cross disaster workers are helping in Florida, where six south Louisiana volunteers will be joining the team Thursday. They are trained to help at shelters, which numbered 11 overnight in Florida.
Three volunteers will be flying from the Baton Rouge airport about 7:30 a.m. Thursday for Gainesville, Fla. Two will be leaving about 12:45 p.m. from Lafayette. The sixth volunteer is awaiting her flight information.
Tropical Depression Debby has dumped as much as 10 inches of rain on most of Florida, with some areas getting up to 25 inches of rain. Truckloads of additional relief supplies are on the way, and 20 response vehicles are ready to start distributing items to help as the clean-up begins there.
Red Cross workers have served more than 32,000 meals and snacks to people affected by the wildfires and flooding, have made almost 3,300 health and mental health contacts, and distributed more than 4,300 relief items.
“Thousands have been impacted by these disasters and the Red Cross is giving them a safe place to stay, food to eat and a shoulder to lean on,” said Charley Shimanski, senior vice president, Red Cross Disaster Services. “We are expanding our efforts to help the growing number of people affected by the fires in the west and are ready to distribute the tools and other resources people will need to begin the clean-up in Florida as the flood waters recede.”
When Louisiana volunteers serve in other locations, they return home with more experience and are better able to contribute to our resiliency after disaster. It’s wonderful for us to be able to share our volunteers since Louisiana consistently is the recipient of more volunteers and donations from outside the state when disasters strike here.