American Red Cross needs more volunteers to respond to natural disasters

Miami Valley News

MIAMI VALLEY, Ohio (WDTN) – What’s left of Hurricane Ida brought devastating flash floods, tornadoes, and other severe weather to areas of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Maryland and Virginia on Wednesday.

Experts with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) say this is a 1 in a 100 year event for some communities.

“These disasters, the strengths of the storms, the amount of disasters… they have just been growing year after year,” said Marita Salkowski, American Red Cross Regional Communications Director.

While about 35 local Red Cross volunteers are deployed to Louisiana in the wake of the Category 4 storm, and about 25 local volunteers are on the West Coast to help battle wildfires, Salkowski expects the local Red Cross chapters will be sending more volunteers to help in the Mid-Atlantic, New England region.

However, the coronavirus pandemic is creating a challenge for the organization. They’ve found themselves short on volunteers.

“Our biggest issue that we’re facing is we have these large scale disasters that are taking place and we need more volunteers, but because of the pandemic we have fewer volunteers than we normally do,” said Salkowski.

The Red Cross does implement social distancing, mask wearing regardless of vaccination status and other COVID guidelines to keep volunteers and the people they’re serving safe.

Volunteers are only scheduled to work for two-weeks at a time to keep them from being overwhelmed and burnt out. But in order to replace these hard-workers, they need more people to take those spots.

“We’ll be in Louisiana at least the next couple of months so we’re going to need volunteers to help us down there,” said Salkowski. “And we will need help for the next storm that is undoubtedly coming up this way.”

To register to become a Red Cross volunteer, click here.

To read the Red Cross’ statement on Climate Change, click here.

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