Local volunteer recounts helping storm victims in Louisiana

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BATON ROUGE, La. (WSAV) — Several volunteers from the Coastal Empire and Lowcountry are working hard Sunday to help people in areas hit hardest by Barry.

Esther Sheppard — the executive director of the American Red Cross in Southeast and Coastal Georgia — is part of a 200-person team from around the country.

She says volunteers are focusing on helping people in shelters. Weatherwise, she says tornado warnings were a big concern early Sunday morning.

And now, people are paying attention to rising flood waters.

“Our concern is making sure people are taken care of,” she said. “And general concerns that our personnel and residents are doing okay.”

We first caught up with Sheppard on Friday when she left Savannah for Baton Rouge. On Sunday, she started the drive to New Orleans.

She says helping people in coastal Georgia prepared her well for helping others in coastal Louisiana.

“The similarities are the wind and the rain,” she explained. “And the possibility of tornados, which is what we experienced in Baton Rouge. We work as a team to ensure… the safety of our personnel…. and the safety of our residents.”

Sheppard says our Southern neighbors are resilient. She has learned that if a storm like Barry hits in our area, it is imperative to listen to authorities and prepare.

“What is very important that I’ll take back home is that we will continue to teach our residents that it is important to be cognizant of the area we live in,” she said. “It is a coastal area and it has many threats.”

Sheppard says the American Red Cross is in need of monetary and blood donations. They are also looking for volunteers.

More information on how to donate, volunteer or give blood in our area is available on their website.

“I am very proud to work for the American Red Cross,” said Sheppard. “To see how we prepare and how we stand up and we’re ready.”

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