Volunteer training already underway for next disaster

LONGVIEW (KYTX) - As Hurricane Isaac continues to make its way further onto land there aren't as many evacuees in East Texas as expected. But that hasn't slowed people down from wanting to become volunteers for the next storm. CBS 19's Amanda Roberson takes us to the American Red Cross in Longview where training has already begun.

The East Texas Piney Woods Chapter of the American Red Cross in Longview is buzzing with people on standby ready to help families affected by Hurricane Isaac. Disaster Relief trucks in the parking lot are from Dennison, TX and Dallas, TX. People from Dennison, Dallas, Wichita Falls, all over the state, are in East Texas on standby and their team is growing."

"It has been on our mind before with previous hurricanes and disasters so yeah, Isaac kind of kicked us," said James Harding. He and his wife Becky live in Longview but said they're ready to give their spare time to volunteering with the Red Cross. "Been considering volunteering for a good while and looking for an organization to be a part of. We've discussed Red Cross."

A volunteer orientation is their first step to joining.

"It just sounds exciting, sounds very important, very worthwhile," Harding explained. "Red Cross helped me years ago when I was in the service so a little bit of give back."

"There's no such thing as too many volunteers," said Red Cross Assistant Job Director Linda Stevenson. "We want as many volunteers as we can get."

Stevenson works for the red cross based out of Wichita Falls, but is in Longview on standby. "Kind of a wake up call because we've been kind of quiet the past couple years. One of the big things is we want to make sure people are prepared for these types of events."

Stevenson said during any disaster spontaneous volunteer show up so they're taking the opportunity to get them trained immediately. Trained shelter workers are the greatest need right now assisting evacuees, passing out food, water, and blankets, and helping process paperwork.

"It's a one day training that they're doing right now but we encourage them to take other training's so they understand what the Red Cross is doing and why we do them," Stevenson said. 

While Harding doesn't know yet where he'll fit in exactly, he said he's ready to join the team. "More interested than before now that we have some more details of what they do and how they do it and what all's involved, it's interesting."

While those with the Red Cross said they'll take any volunteer, they especially need people who want to work in shelters and nurses to meet the health needs of evacuees.

The same training that happened in Longview also took place in Tyler Wednesday. It's not too late for people to get involved. They'll have the same emergency volunteer training and shelter operation training again in both cities Saturday, Sept. 1.

Find the volunteer training schedules and more information by clicking here.


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