AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) — When Hurricane Ida passed the Gulf Coast, a Red Cross team from Augusta was already on the ground. The first wave of volunteers was deployed over the weekend, prepared to set up shelters and distribute food and supplies to people in need.
“We’ll go out in the communities and see where help is needed,” Susan Everitt, the Executive Director of the American Red Cross of East Central Georgia, explains. “We’ll continue to do sheltering. We’ll also continue to follow up with longer term case work and work with our community partners to ensure that we’re there to help anyone who’s in need.”
“They [volunteers] are literally driving around everywhere they can get, putting their boots on the ground and eyes on the disaster so we can tell where we need to be,” she adds.
This is the sixth deployment in four years for Susan Everitt. She joined the Red Cross after her home was destroyed by Hurricane Floyd in 1999. She says Hurricane Ida appears to be one of the worst storms she has seen.
“We’ve heard stories of people being trapped in attics. There’s a massive amount of flooding. It’s utter devastation. We are going to be there for a very long time.”
20 South Carolinians are assisting in relief efforts as well, both in-person and virtually.
“Our volunteers are helping from any number of things — from managing logistics to driving supplies down to coastal Louisiana,” Mandy McWherter, the Regional Communications Manager of the Red Cross of South Carolina, says. “We’ve also staged blood products in hospitals to make sure life-saving blood supplies are never disrupted throughout this disaster.”
Volunteers say seeing the devastation is not easy.
“You go in, put your head down and serve your clients as best as you possibly can,” Everitt says. “It’s hard feeling like you can’t do more because we always want do more.”
But, they say it is worth it.
“We’re always going to be there when folks need it most,” McWherter says.
“We get out so much more than we think we can ever give because we want to be of service, and this is a great way we can do that,” Everitt adds.
How to contribute to relief efforts
If you would like to help with relief efforts, the Red Cross says you can donate blood, money or your time and volunteer.