Red Cross continues to prepare storm response

Published: Jul. 8, 2021 at 5:08 PM EDT
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HENRICO, Va. (WWBT) - Whether it be Elsa or other major weather events in our area, the American Red Cross is always prepared. On Thursday, volunteers loaded up a truck with supplies heading out to other parts of the country in case they’re needed.

Volunteer Ellen White has been out on a half dozen Red Cross efforts so far this year. It’s almost become a second life for her, so when she got the call to prepare supplies, she said she immediately jumped at the chance.

“Every day, if they need me,” White said. She drove over a few dozen pallets from Roanoke so supplies could be packed, to be taken to states in Elsa’s path.

Stacks of containers line the walls of their supply warehouse in the West End, each one packed with everything needed for a Red Cross shelter, including cots to sleep on, all the way down to things like pens for staff to write with.

“Everything up here on this top shelf is for the Red Cross to open up shelters, so we have what we call ‘congregate supplies’,” said Jonathan McNamara with the Red Cross. They’re meant for makeshift shelters within large spaces like school gymnasiums.

While the organization says the response in Virginia isn’t major as of yet, that doesn’t deter the day-to-day responsibilities of the volunteers who serve the whole Commonwealth.

“Hurricane preparedness is really a 365-day operation for the Red Cross, and it starts really without volunteers who are constantly training and recruiting additional volunteers, and really preparing to do what we do in these types of events. And when you’re talking about that type of operation, preparedness is key,” said McNamara.

White says she has relatives in North Carolina, a state that is no stranger to bad storms. Knowing that there are people at risk of the effects of bad natural disasters is what keeps her volunteering every day.

“When I get a phone call, and they say ‘Ellen, can you go?’ It’s always yes. My bag is always packed. Because it’s always someone that needs you,” White said.

The Red Cross says they’ll continue to keep in touch with local authorities in Elsa’s path and will assess and perhaps deploy if needed.

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