Local Red Cross Volunteers Poised to Help

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“It’s stressful. It’s exhausting. But at the same time, it’s very fulfilling. I’m glad to be going,” said Pam Kanikula, a Disaster Mental Health Volunteer with the Red Cross.

Red Cross volunteer Pam Kanikula is packed and ready to help disaster victims on the East Coast. She’ll fly into New York City Tuesday.

“They don’t know exactly in New York what the extent of the damage is going to be,” Kanikula said.

She’s helped Hurricane victims once before. Working in evacuation shelters, Kanikula provided disaster mental health services in Louisiana after Ike and Rita hit.

“There were anywhere from 20 to 150 people staying in the shelters. Small children, disabled people, older people, families,” said Kanikula.

This weekend, as Irene showed her strength, more than 27,000 people slept in Red Cross shelters along the East Coast. As soon as conditions allow, volunteers like Kanikula may be going into neighborhoods to provide disaster counseling and to distribute food. The Red Cross has a call out for financial donations to help provide for those affected. It’s also calling out for donations of blood.

Irene has canceled 50 blood drives along the east Coast. That amounts to a loss of about 1,500 pints of blood.

“We need to keep a constant ready supply to support surgeries, accidents and things like that are continuing to go on across the country so if we’re losing people donating at blood drives in the entire East Coast we need people throughout the rest of the country to step up,” said Jody Weyers, Regional Director of Volunteers and Communication with the American Red Cross of Northeast Wisconsin.

Kanikula has stepped up to offer her talents to help others.

“These people are hurting so much and to be able to in some way provide them with comfort, help them to deal and heal it’s very satisfying to be able to do that,” Kanikula said.

Blood Drives are set up throughout the area. Check your local Red Cross Chapter for details. To make a quick $10 donation, text the word REDCROSS to 90999.

Olga Halaburda Channel Five News HD Peshtigo.