East Hawaii News

Big Island Red Cross Volunteers Prepare to Head to Gulf Coast

August 28, 2012, 2:25 PM HST
* Updated August 29, 3:29 PM
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Five American Red Cross volunteers on the Big Island are among 50 statewide that are on standby to deploy to the Gulf Coast for Hurricane Isaac relief operations.

One volunteer from the Big Island is leaving tonight for Texas and up to 10 people from Oahu and Maui may also be deployed tonight. According to Barney Sheffield, disaster services coordinator for the Hawaii County chapter of the American Red Cross, the volunteers will fly to Texas for pre-positioning.

“They’re going to a staging area in Houston, Texas, and then after landfall, officials will decide where they will deploy them to,” said Sheffield.

Red Cross volunteers, who typically go on two-week assignments, are not paid for their time while they are deployed, although the Red Cross provides them with shelter and food.

Currently, 15 million people are now under warnings from Hurricane Isaac, which is expected to cause severe flooding in the Gulf Coast region. According to Red Cross officials, nearly 2,400 disaster workers have already been assigned to states in the storm’s path and dozens of emergency shelters in the region are on alert. 

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Sheffield said five additional Big Island volunteers are on standby to be deployed to the Gulf Coast, but they won’t be activated until after Hurricane Isaac makes landfall and an assessment is done to determine how many people are needed.

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With Hurricane Isaac scheduled to make landfall on the seventh anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and the 20th anniversary of Hurricane Iniki in Hawaii fast approaching, Sheffield said now is a is a good time for Big Island residents to prepare for a hurricane.

“We are still in hurricane season here in Hawaii, so it’s important to be prepared and have a disaster plan,” Sheffield said.

For more information on hurricane preparedness or to learn about Red Cross efforts in the Gulf Coast go to www.redcross.org.

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