Red Cross of Alaska Volunteers Head to Texas to Assist with Hurricane Harvey & Call for Volunteers
August 31, 2017
Thousands of people have been forced to leave their flooded homes, losing everything they own - and more rain and flooding is expected throughout the week. It is anticipated that many more families will be impacted.
Hundreds of Red Cross volunteers from all over the country are on the ground, working to provide safe shelter and comfort to people impacted by this devastating storm.
Here in Alaska, The Red Cross has already deployed one Red Cross volunteer from Anchorage to Houston, and two more left from Anchorage Monday night and arrived in Austin early Tuesday morning. A fourth volunteer from Fairbanks is also slated to depart for Austin by Tuesday.
“Our hearts go out to the people affected by this catastrophic disaster in Texas,” said Tanguy Libbrecht, Red Cross of Alaska CEO.
“We know this is a challenging and emotional time, and the American Red Cross is working to get help to where it is needed most. Here in Alaska we have four volunteers who are in Texas, or on the way and we are expecting to send more as we establish where assistance is most needed. We’re thankful for the dedication of volunteers who are willing to help those in need.”
Wednesday, the American Red Cross of Alaska announced a plan to provide volunteer opportunities to those Alaskans interested in helping with large disasters like Hurricane Harvey, but also when smaller disasters like home fires happen in local communities.
Hurricane Harvey has displaced tens of thousands of individuals, and the Red Cross is in need of volunteers to deploy to assist in recovery efforts that will continue for months.
The Red Cross of Alaska appreciates the overwhelming interest of the public to volunteer. Due to the tremendous outpouring of support, the Alaska chapter has scheduled a series of new volunteer training sessions that will prepare Alaskans to potentially deploy to Texas over the next few months. Once the training program is completed, new volunteers will also be qualified to respond to local disaster efforts.
“We greatly appreciate the response in our community to assist,” said Kelley McGuirk, Regional Disaster Officer at the Red Cross of Alaska. “Please be aware this will be an extremely challenging deployment. You must be in good physical and mental health and know that this can be mentally and emotionally exhausting.”
Volunteer training courses will begin next week in Anchorage and Fairbanks, and begin September 15 in Juneau. ( Red Cross of Alaska Volunteer Training Courses Details )
The effects of Harvey will be felt for a long time. New volunteers interested in deploying with the Red Cross of Alaska should allow about a months’ time for the on boarding process to be complete.
The safety of the people we serve and the volunteers who help them is of utmost importance. Procedures are in place to track who is volunteering for the Red Cross to help keep people safe. This includes running a background check on all volunteers who will work directly with the people who turn to us for help or have access to funds. Volunteers also sign an agreement to abide by our code of ethics and conduct.
Once new volunteers are in the Red Cross system and qualify to deploy, they can expect their deployment to last for approximately 14 days.
How You Can Help
If you would like to volunteer with the Red Cross, you can visit redcross.org/volunteer to learn more about the many volunteer opportunities and how to submit a volunteer application. This would allow you to not only help on large disasters like Hurricane Harvey, but also when smaller disasters like home fires happen in your community.
The Red Cross of Alaska estimates it will take approximately two weeks to process volunteer applications, complete background checks, complete Red Cross training, and get new volunteers ready to deploy to Texas. The recovery process will continue for months, and there will be opportunities for everyone who qualifies to deploy with the Red Cross.
“To put things into perspective, we deployed about 200 volunteers to Hurricane Katrina,” said Libbrecht. “We are preparing for a volunteer response that could exceed Katrina.”
We know Alaskans are generous and want to do everything they can to help after a disaster. Unfortunately, collecting and sending food, clothing and other household items often does more harm than good. It takes time and money to store, sort, clean and distribute donated items, which diverts limited time and resources away from helping those most affected. Instead, the best way to support disaster victims is with a financial donation.
The Red Cross depends on financial donations to be able to provide disaster relief immediately. Help people affected by Hurricane Harvey by visiting www.redcross.org/Alaska, calling 1- 800-RED CROSS or texting the word HARVEY to 90999 to make a $10 donation.
Donations enable the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from this disaster.
Search for Loved Ones
Concerned family and friends can search RedCross.org/SafeAndWell for those who have registered themselves as “safe and well.” The results of a successful search will display a loved one’s first name, last name and a brief message.
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Editing by Mary Kauffman, SitNews
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