Local Red Cross volunteers to help with relief effort

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About 25 Red Cross volunteers from Northeast Ohio have been dispatched to Macon, Ga., to prepare for Hurricane Florence, which is hammering the Carolina coast this weekend. A second group of volunteers will soon be deployed.

Karen Conklin, executive director of Red Cross’ Lake to River Chapter, said that volunteers will help provide evacuees with food, shelter and necessary supplies.

“They are trained to open shelters. They know how to mass feed. They have certifications so that they can drive vehicles to move supplies,” Conklin said.

While the Red Cross’ efforts are focused on evacuees, the organization must reserve a group of volunteers to respond to local issues that arise in Hurricane Florence’s aftermath.

“We have been put on alert that one of our chapter counties, Jefferson, may experience the hurricane’s effects if the Ohio River floods. And we need to have volunteers and shelter sites for if the river backs up. We’re preparing locally for a shelter to open in that county,” Conklin said.

Steven Andrews, a senior at Kent State University interning at the Red Cross this semester, plans to deploy to the Carolinas on Monday.

“Once I land, they’ll give me instructions and tell me where I will be stationed. I’ve been doing a lot of training here, like taking feeding classes. I’ll be in shelters packing food for families and distributing food to families in shelters. I’ll also be working at a bulk-distribution center and stocking our trucks,” he said.

For those unable to volunteer but eager to contribute, many organizations are accepting donations. But the Federal Trade Commission warns of donation scams that proliferate in the aftermath of natural disasters. The FTC suggests that those who wish to donate vet charities through sites such as Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance, Charity Navigator, Charity Watch or GuideStar.

The Charlotte Observer recommends giving to the following national organizations: American Red Cross, Salvation Army, UNICEF, Mennonite Disaster Service, Samaritan’s First and St. Bernard Project, and the following local organizations: Charleston Animal Society, Diaper Bank of North Carolina, Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina, Loaves and Fishes and Harvest Hope Food Bank.