By Kendall McGee | August 14, 2020 at 5:47 PM EDT – Updated August 14 at 7:50 PM
WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) – The 2020 storm season has been a busy one. This year, we’ve seen the most named storms at this point in hurricane season so far.
In addition to the activity in the tropics, disaster relief workers are also having to overcome challenges presented by the coronavirus pandemic. The Red Cross is limiting travel and calling for local volunteers to step up and get trained to man shelters ahead of any more storms on the horizon.
Generally, when disaster strikes, the Red Cross flies in volunteers from across the country to help, but due to travel restrictions and safety concerns, it’s relying on local volunteers to meet the need.
“We know that our citizens are very generous with their time after a disaster strikes and so we would encourage you to get trained now so that way you can jump right in and start helping right away and not have any delay in the training you need to do to help,” said James Jarvis of the American Red Cross. “We’ll train you virtually online and then we will pair you with an experienced Red Crosser who’s done many of these.”
Alan Simmons has been volunteering with the Red Cross now for eight years. He’s no stranger to service either; Simmons worked in New York during 9/11 and also served in the military.
Simmons says meeting people out in the field is his favorite part of being a volunteer.
“In some respects its very sad, seeing people who have lost everything, but being able to help them…giving out food supplies or taking their information and hoping they will get some kind of compensation,” said Simmons.
Red Cross volunteers have been busy visiting hard hit areas of the Cape Fear, supporting hurricane shelters, delivering meals to victims in Bertie County and cleanup kits and supplies to more than 100 families in Oak Island. Simmons and his wife went out themselves to survey damage after Hurricane Isaias devastated parts of Brunswick County.
“We were helping a family that lost everything; their trailer was demolished and I happened to have some comfort kits in the back of my car. We gave them out…gave them a kit of water, even a tarp I use for garden supplies around the house…and I was able to give them that so they can cover their roof,” said Simmons.
The Red Cross is in urgent need of shelter volunteers to staff hurricane shelters and make sure people staying there are equipped with basic necessities, healthcare volunteers, like retired nurses or EMTs, to take care of people’s health, and also blood drive volunteers.
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