American Red Cross leaders explain Hurricane Ida relief efforts

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AUGUSTA, G.A. (WJBF) – Local relief efforts are continuing along the Gulf Coast following Hurricane Ida. American Red Cross leaders explain the role they play in helping those impacted by the aftermath.

“We do it because it’s what we love to do, we love to serve,” said Susan Everitt.

Everitt is the Executive Director of the American Red Cross of East Central Georgia.
She says this is her sixth deployment in four years, including Hurricane Katrina.

“I signed up to help and that was the start of my volunteer journey back then and it was just truly unimaginable, the level of devastation and what comes with all the water that comes in. It just creates such an unfathomable mess,” said Everitt.

Hurricane Ida made landfall on the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. Days before the storm hit the American Red Cross had 600 workers out on the ground ready to help.

“So, we are actually there many days before landfall, pre-landfall and that’s the time that we are getting ready. We’re getting our shelters set up, we’re sending in all the things that people will need the water, the food, the cots, the blankets, the comfort kits, the cleanup kits, anything we want it there beforehand,” she said.

So far 750 Red Cross staff and volunteers have been deployed and Everitt expects those numbers to go up.

“Obviously, you know with a hurricane which we see of this magnitude, it’s not going to be a weekend over. I think we’re going to be here for a while, so when that happens, we send volunteers in waves so we don’t send everybody at once, we reserve some people, so they can continue to help for as long as we’re needed,” she said.

Thursday night more than 2,400 people were housed in 29 Red Cross and community shelters across Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Texas. More than 863,000 customers remain without power across Louisiana and Mississippi. Part of the Red Cross’ responsibilities are assessing those damages.

“As soon as the storm passes and it’s clear for people to be out, we’ll be sending out our disaster assessment teams. So these are red crossers that literally get in their car and go street by street and look at where the disaster is. They’ll take a picture, talk to homeowners and they categorize in a database. So, that helps local counties, state and federal agencies know where the disaster is,” said Everitt.

That helps determine how much financial assistance is needed and where it is needed. The Red Cross is currently taking monetary donations and blood donations.

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