At least 33 Red Cross disaster workers from Iowa are being sent to Southern California to help with the wildfire evacuation and relief efforts. Five of those volunteers are with the Marshalltown based Iowa Rivers Chapter, where Mary Dooley is executive director.
"At least three of our volunteers will work in shelters, directly with the people who have evacuated," Dooley says, "and many of them will also come in contact with people who don’t yet know what the status of their home is." Dooley says the Red Cross is operating more than two dozen shelters in Southern California, with help from 2,000 volunteers.
Dooley says her chapter, and others in Iowa, have additional volunteers on call. "I would anticipate over the next few days, we will still be deploying people to respond to the operations in California," Dooley said. The Iowa Rivers Chapter of the Red Cross has several volunteers that have plenty of previous experience with disaster relief.
Dooley says many of her workers started their Red Cross careers during Hurricane Katrina, and have since responded to other hurricanes and floods around the country. Most Red Cross volunteers are retired individuals, but Dooley says she has other workers who take vacation from work to volunteer.
"Our chapter sent 63 people to Hurricane Katrina," Dooley says, "and many of those took vacation specifically to go and help." The Iowa Red Cross volunteers sent to California are being told they could be there for 10 days or up to three weeks. Dooley, meanwhile, will be traveling to Washington, D.C. She’s been asked to help with administrative duties at the National Red Cross Disaster Operations Center.