American Red Cross Brings More Local Volunteers to Florida

The group aims at providing a way to help give relief without putting volunteers in danger

FARGO, ND — With many volunteers already in Texas, local relief groups are sending even more manpower to Florida.

But the American Red Cross told us people who want to help should not go down south by themselves.

Hurricane Harvey already did a number on federal relief funds and volunteer groups from across the nation.

But companies like Xcel Energy still have enough Minnesotan helpers for round two of hurricane relief.

With 70 more workers on the way to restore power in southern Florida, they’re one of several Upper Midwest organizations dividing help between Harvey and Irma.

“You think about what Fargo went through, what Grand Forks went through, what Minot went through with flooding, we know what that feels like,” said Lynn Speral, CEO of American Red Cross Dakotas Region.

They already sent 60 trained volunteers down south.

Lynn Speral said even more are on the way with the mission to provide food and shelter.

“We know that devastation that comes from floodwaters,” Speral added.

She said there’s many people who want to go down and help, but she wants them to do it right.

Speral cautions volunteers against self-deploying without first going through a well-established organization.

“We all have good intentions,” she said. “With sending supplies and just going down to volunteer, you have to be a little careful that we’re doing the right thing.”

She urges self-starters and grassroots initiatives to check in with groups like the Red Cross.

They can help verify if the supplies being given are what victims really need and ensure proper distribution.

A South Dakota Red Cross executive director is on the ground in Texas and told us the story of one man they helped house.

“He said it was almost instantly that his house was flooded,” said Richard Smith, the Western South Dakota American Red Cross Executive Director. “He just got out with the clothes he had on, grabbed the neighbors and they all walked out. He got out of the flooding area, left everything he owned behind. No driver’s license. Just hearing the story from him and he was so excited when he got that financial assistance. He was able to go out and do something.”

No matter the number of hurricanes, it seems one community with severe flood experience is able help.

FEMA officials said thousands of volunteers are needed, but they also highly discourage people from self-deploying.

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