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Red Cross of Southern Arizona volunteers head to Louisiana to help people affected by Hurricane Laura

Posted at 10:57 PM, Aug 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-31 02:13:54-04

TUCSON, Ariz. — Sixteen Southern Arizona American Red Cross volunteers are already on the ground, helping people in the Gulf Coast affected by Hurricane Laura. At least five more are headed to Louisiana to join them in their efforts.

Those volunteers will focus on logistics and shelter relief, which means making sure the thousands of people who are displaced, have a safe place to stay.

"If you can imagine yourself being removed from your home unexpectedly, you would want the help of as many people you could get," says MaRico Tippett, a board member with The Red Cross of Southern Arizona. "If people want to volunteer, we highly encourage it."

Usually, individual Red Cross volunteers will spend about two weeks in disaster areas, focusing on sheltering, feeding and providing emotional support to victims. According to Tippett, the Red Cross will stay in the disaster area for as long as they are needed there.

Tippett says the Red Cross can use all the support it can get, through monetary donations, volunteering and blood drives.

Before going to disaster areas, volunteers participate in an extensive training to assist in the disaster area, as well as additional training to make sure they are 'COVID compliant.'

"Our volunteers have been training for this type of response and are ready to help those affected by Hurricane Laura," says Kara Egbert, Board Chair of the Southern Arizona Chapter.

The Red Cross says it has mobilized almost 1,000 trained disaster workers to support relief efforts both on the ground and virtually.

If people are looking for a lower-commitment way to help, the Red Cross is also asking for blood donations.

"We need more people to step up. We need people to go and donate blood," says Tippet. "The Red Cross is responsible for about 40 percent of the nation's blood supply."

Blood donations organized from the Red Cross, were sent to hospitals near areas impacted by Hurricane Laura ahead of time, so they were prepared for higher demand during the hurricane.

People can make a monitary donation at the American Red Cross' website, or text 'LAURA' to 90999 to donate $10.