5 Big Island Red Cross volunteers among those to help with Hurricane Dorian response

  • Matthew Aylen wades through waist deep water as he is rescued from his flooded home during Hurricane Dorian in Freeport, Bahamas, Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2019. Practically parking over the Bahamas for a day and a half, Dorian pounded away at the islands Tuesday in a watery onslaught that devastated thousands of homes, trapped people in attics and crippled hospitals. (AP Photo/Tim Aylen)

KAILUA-KONA — Hawaii residents are responding to the call to assist those who might be affected by Hurricane Dorian, which ravaged the Bahamas and is bearing down on the South.

Sixteen Hawaii Red Cross volunteers were deployed to help residents in the storm’s path between Florida, Georgia and North and South Carolina.

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South Kona resident Cathy Lewis is one of them.

Tuesday evening, she was ready to render services in Jacksonville, Fla., where seven shelters are open. Lewis is in charge of tracking volunteers in Jacksonville.

“I track where they are and where they will be staying,” she said.

Parts of the city have been evacuated, which resulted in filled shelters.

Of the Hawaii volunteers, nine are from Oahu, five from the Big Island, one from Kauai and one from Molokai. They’ll be tasked with jobs ranging from mental health, spiritual care, sheltering, logistics, planning and staffing.

As of Tuesday afternoon, the eastern coast of Florida was under a hurricane warning after the storm caused devastation in the Bahamas.

According to the National Hurricane Center, life-threatening storm surge and dangerous winds are expected along portions of Florida’s east coast and coastal areas of Georgia and North and South Carolina regardless of the exact path of Dorian’s center.

Balbi Brooks of Waimea was packing her bags Tuesday afternoon, ready to board a plane for North Carolina, not knowing what to expect.

“I’ll find out when I get there,” she said.

When she lands at Raleigh–Durham International Airport today, officials will send her wherever she is most needed.

The Red Cross is coordinating with partners to support evacuation centers, estimating more than 60,000 people in Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas might need help.

In advance of Dorian, 110 emergency response vehicles, and 104 tractor-trailer loads full of relief supplies have been deployed, with more than 1,900 trained volunteers helping to support the relief efforts.

“We get a lot of thank yous,” Lewis said about helping with the organization. “That’s what keeps me going.”

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All Red Cross assistance to disaster victims is free. The Red Cross is not a government agency; it depends on public contributions to help others. To make a donation, visit redcross.org/hawaii or call 739-8109.

Email Laura Ruminski at lruminski@westhawaiitoday.com.

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