At least nine Iowans are among the volunteers from across the country heading to the Gulf Coast in anticipation of Hurricane Isaac. Linda Sutherland of Marion is among the Iowans with the American Red Cross who left this morning for Tampa, Florida.

Sutherland was packing her bags Thursday, not knowing if she’ll be in Florida for a few days or a few weeks. She compared the process to the TV show Amazing Race. “We leave home, not sure where we will end up, we just know we will be in a safe Red Cross environment,” Sutherland said.

Other Red Cross staffers from the Sioux City, Waterloo, Cedar Rapids and Des Moines areas are bound for Florida to provide disaster services. Sutherland wasn’t notified she’d be making the trip until Thursday morning. “I have to admit, I’ve never been in a hurricane so I am a little bit nervous about that part,” Sutherland said.

The trip to Florida will be Sutherland’s 7th trip with the Red Cross. The disaster that struck eastern Iowa four years ago motivated Sutherland to get involved with the organization. “A lot of people came for 2008 and our floods, and we got a lot of community service and help. This is the way I try to repay that,” Sutherland said.

By Addison Speck, KCRG-TV, Cedar Rapids