Hundreds of Iowans with power companies and relief agencies are still on the East Coast helping residents recover from Hurricane Sandy. More than three-dozen volunteers with the American Red Cross chapter based in Omaha-Council Bluffs are deployed mostly in New York and New Jersey.
The chapter’s CEO Tina Labellarte just returned from two weeks in the disaster zone and says more volunteers from Iowa are needed.
Labellarte says, “Back here at home, there are new people saying, for the first time, ‘I want to do that and I want to be a Red Cross volunteer,’ so the next time there’s a big event or if this one continues, they’ll be able to go, too.”
In our region, she says there are about three-thousand trained Red Cross volunteers who are ready to serve when called.
“Not all of those are in a position to be able to travel,” Labellarte says. “Right now, we have about 40 people from this area who are in New Jersey. We have to replenish the troops constantly. We need at least hundreds of people to come forward and I suspect that we’ll see a good response.”
Labellarte says disasters like Hurricane Sandy show how many volunteers the Red Cross needs to provide important services at every level. “Answer the phone, make coffee, set up cots, help selecting supplies, driving a forklift,” Labellarte says.
“Everybody starts in the same place. They start with their local chapter. You go for orientation and training and learn about what kinds of courses, what kinds of experience you need to have to progress, to be able to go out.”
The Red Cross’ office in Omaha will offer an orientation/training session next Monday, from 4:30 to 6 PM, while another session will be held at the Council Bluffs chapter office on December 19th. Check with your nearest chapter via www.redcross.org