Preparations to deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Florence are already underway in the coastal empire. Volunteers from the local red cross are on stand-by right now. Volunteers from the Savannah-area chapter of the red cross, experienced in working disaster relief, hit the road before noon on Monday. They made pre-trip travel checks on their vehicle and the inventory inside, before getting on the road to response to the coming storm. Esther Sheppard, Executive Director of the American Red Cross of Southeast and Coastal Georgia, says two of their emergency response vehicles, ERV’s, are being deployed. “Their roles are to distribute, distribute food, which is crucial because when you have folks that are trying to clean up after a disaster, having um, nourishment and having meals is very important. Also, having the response vehicles and the volunteers distribute cleaning supplies.” Sheppard said.
The ERV’s are heading west to stage in an area deemed safe for them to prepare their readiness for response. Red Cross is working closely with local, state and national officials and partners to prepare its resources, personnel, and has already established action plans, based on several scenarios related to landfall location. Red Cross is leaning forward to insure its readiness to support residents throughout the state and as needed, across state lines.
Kermit Lasley and Leslie Stewart make up one of the two ERV teams from the Savannah area being dispatched to help with storm recovery. Both men say they’ve served as Red Cross volunteers in disaster recovery zones before. They say their work as volunteers isn’t paid in dollars, but it makes sense to their souls. “We don’t get any pay for this, but my gratification is to see the smile on the kids faces and the smile on the individuals faces that they’re being helped in a time of need and what not, that’s my gratification.” Lasley said. Stewart says he agrees.
“It’s no better gratification than helping those in need and my personal gratification comes from those who depend on us to be there and it’s just a blessing to be there, for those who lost everything or going through a rough time.” said Stewart. Both men are among a handful from the regions who are hoping to make the tough times left in the wake of Hurricane Florence a little less tough by providing help when help can’t wait. “Even deploying our emergency response vehicle, it does take financial resources to put gasoline in those vehicles to get volunteers where they need to be, so those financial resources that are local, public, and community would provide for us are definitely crucial.” Sheppard said. She adds Red Cross is leaning forward to insure its readiness to support residents throughout the state and as needed, across state lines. Local Red Cross ERV’s are being staged in Macon and will be deployed based on where Hurricane Florence makes landfall.