TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - The Red Cross is in urgent need of volunteers as hurricanes and wildfires rage on. Volunteers are busy with disaster recovery from Hurricane Laura and now await the landfall of Hurricane Sally.
“We’re taking every precaution with COVID-19 but you can’t provide food, water and shelter without people on the ground so our volunteers are absolutely critical for that disaster relief," said Courtney Slanaker, the executive director for the Southern Arizona Chapter of the Red Cross.
The Red Cross is helping more than 30,000 people between the wildfires in California, Oregon and hurricanes in Louisiana and Texas. Red Cross Volunteer Jim Harms is lending a helping hand for the second time.
“I was here pre-landfall at a shelter in Alexandria, Louisiana," Harms said. "I went home for a week and then I came back last Friday and will be here another week.”
Harms is working on damage assessments from Hurricane Laura just south of the Saint Charles Parish in Louisiana.
“We have telephone polls down, carports falling on cars, more rooftop damage right over there," he said as he walked through a neighborhood damaged by the hurricane.
Another southern Arizonan, Shelly Berger, also helped in the Gulf Coast. She just returned from Orange County, Texas.
“That area was completely without power, the cell towers were blown down so there was no communication," she said. "There was flooding, you saw people at one of the worst times in their lives.”
Witnessing devastation and loss, volunteers like Harms and Berger are stepping up to aid in the recovery.
“We all need to help each other and the concept of it takes a village is absolutely true," Berger said.
About 3,000 volunteers are deployed between the two coasts and at least 700 spots still need filled. More than 30 volunteers from the Southern Arizona Chapter of the Red Cross are currently deployed.
Visit the Red Cross to learn more about volunteering. Call 1-800-435-7669 to donate or text REDCROSS to 90999 to give $10 to American Red Cross Disaster Relief.