East TN Red Cross volunteers deployed ahead of Hurricane Laura

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Local Red Cross volunteers have deployed ahead of Hurricane Laura.

The storm is expected to make landfall this week along the Gulf Coast. A few East Tennesseans are now stationed near the path to lend a hand in person and virtually.

Three volunteers from the East Tennessee chapter of the Red Cross are ready to respond. Two will be deployed in person and one is a virtual volunteer.

“We have a shelter worker on the ground in Alabama. The disaster support manager on the ground in Texas,” Sharon Hudson, Executive Director for the East Tennessee chapter of the American Red Cross, said.

Another local volunteer is deploying virtually. Hudson says they will still offer health services help, but do so, without leaving their home.

“That means they’re talking to the client on the phone, they’re finding out and assessing what their needs are,” she said. “A health services need could be someone they had to evacuate and they didn’t get all of their medication, so we’re helping make and convene everything that we need to do to make sure that client is safe and meeting their needs.”

It’s not a new volunteer position for the Red Cross, but they say with the ongoing pandemic, they do have more. And even though COVID-19 is making the organization’s work look different, it’s not changing the mission.

“If you have a shelter set up, because of social distancing, we can’t have a lot of volunteers in there helping, so some of those volunteers may be working virtually, making sure that their meals are provided, making sure that there are items that are necessary and any kind of logistics,” Hudson said. “That’s what we do. We provide food, shelter and emergency support to disaster survivors.”

Across the state, 20 volunteers have been deployed to the Gulf Coast.

The executive director says they’re always looking for more volunteers. If you’re interested you can visit www.redcross.org.

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