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Red Cross volunteers from the region leave to aid with Hurricane Laura efforts

The Red Cross is setting up isolation areas in shelters and working closely with health departments to make sure everyone who needs shelter is kept safe.
Published: Aug. 26, 2020 at 10:43 PM EDT
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The American Red Cross has deployed 600 volunteers to the Gulf Coast, including 25 from Virginia.

The director of communications from the American Red Cross of Virginia told WDBJ7 some of those volunteers are from our region.

“We do have a number from Southwest Virginia as well as Central Virginia who are joining in the efforts,” said Jonathan McNamara.

The volunteers will take on several different roles. “Everything from shelter work that you’re typically used to seeing from the Red Cross,” McNamara said. “We have some of our medical Red Cross volunteers who go out and do things like helping with our screenings in advance of shelters as well as doing things like blood pressure tests, replacing medications and eyeglasses.”

The Red Cross also has psychological first aid counselors who can help with the emotional aspects of these responses.

The American Red Cross has also had to take special precautions as they prepare to work in a potential disaster amid COVID-19.

“That includes virtual work. That includes social distancing. How to wear PPE properly, an acronym none of us was familiar with before COVID-19,” McNamara said. “But to ensure also that anyone who goes to a Red Cross shelter has a place to go and that includes those who may have COVID-19 symptoms.”

The Red Cross is setting up isolation areas in shelters and working closely with health departments to make sure everyone who needs shelter is kept safe, McNamara said.

Volunteers who are in the Gulf states are being housed in safe spots. Once the storm passes the Red Cross will coordinate with FEMA to determine where they’re needed.

“Our volunteers train throughout the year to be ready for this type of event,” McNamara said.

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