State Red Cross chapters en route to help with Irene efforts

August 26, 2011: Written by Sarah Kloepping Herald Times Reporter

August 26, 2011 Long Island, New York.American Red Cross Volunteer Saul Linares checks up on Victor Montez,13, and provides him with blankets for his family. The Montez family lives in an area that has been put under mandatory evacuation in Long Island, NY. Among the first shelter inhabitants, Montez helped Red Cross volunteers assemble hundreds of cots as Hurricane Irene draws closer. Photo by Talia Frenkel/American Red Cross

MANITOWOC — Wisconsin chapters of the American Red Cross will aid victims of Hurricane Irene, which is slated to impact much of the East Coast beginning as early as today.

Red Cross spokesperson Barbara Behling said as of early Friday afternoon, eight trained Red Cross members from northeastern Wisconsin — including Manitowoc resident Rich Davis — were on their way to North Carolina, where the storm is expected to hit first. She said the number of trained volunteers is increasing and she anticipated at least a dozen by today.

“If a terrible storm hits Manitowoc, Wis., people are going to come to help, trained Red Cross volunteers,” she said. “They hug their wives and their kids goodbye and they run to help people in need. It’s the same thing when it happens elsewhere in the country. The goodhearted folks from Wisconsin drop everything and they go to help people in need.”

The Red Cross is planning to send about 600 Red Cross volunteers from across the nation to the East Coast.

“Once we know what the storm actually does, then we will be adjusting our figures,” she said. “If the storm would turn and head east … if Manhattan takes a direct hit, that’s certainly going to affect how we respond.”

Behling said sending area residents to a potential disaster site makes the local community stronger.

“They’re having an experience of setting up a larger shelter, feeding thousands and sometimes tens of thousands of people in a day, the distribution of supplies,” she said. “So it’s really an exercise in preparedness and response. And then our volunteers come back with that talent and knowledge.”

Sarah Kloepping: (920) 686-2105 or skloepping@htrnews.com