Nine Volunteers Deploy to East Coast for Hurricane Florence Relief

Volunteers will help distribute food and bulk supplies

FARGO, N.D. —¬†Hurricane Florence is a Category Four storm expected to reach landfall in the Carolinas and Virginia by Thursday.

While evacuation orders are in place, brave volunteers heading into the storm.

All it took was one ad in the paper.

“Red Cross needed help so we said we can do this and then we started taking classes and then we were like ‘we can do more and more,'” said Barb Henke, who’s been deploying to disasters since 1995.

So much more that 23 years later, Paul Henke can say he’s been deployed to more than 15 disasters. His wife Barb has been deployed to more 30, including 9/11. On the 17th anniversary of the tragedy, she and her husband are getting ready to go to the Carolinas and Virginia to provide relief to those stuck in Hurricane Florence’s path. Seven other volunteers are going as well but for some, this is the first time they’ll ever go on a national deployment.

“People need help when it is the scariest time. It doesn’t matter if it’s a hurricane or a house fire here. Those people feel the same way. They’ve lost everything and they don’t know what to do,” said David Collins, who’s going on his first national deployment.

Volunteers only got the call Tuesday but will now provide relief for two to three weeks. They’re taking two emergency response vehicles (ERV’s) of the five total the Red Cross Dakotas Region has.

Red Cross members say it’s possible they will need to send all their emergency response vehicles to the Carolinas and Virginia. But they say they have to be careful because of the other storms hitting the U.S.

Just last fall, the Red Cross Dakotas Region sent all of their ERV’s to different parts of the country getting slammed by hurricanes.

“We wanted to make sure we were being appropriate with our folks in the Texas area for Harvey and then in Florida for Irma and then for Nate and Maria out in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. We do the best that we can using the intel we have to try to determine where these are going to hit and how can we be staged to be most helpful,” said Lynn Speral, Red Cross Dakotas Region CEO.

National storms or not, some of these volunteers keeping coming back for more because being too prepared is never a bad thing when trying to help others.

“It also helps us with small things around our area, even if it’s not a big national disaster. It helps us if we have something going on in Valley City. We kind of know what to do now, oh yeah, to help people,” Henke said.

Volunteers are expected to reach their destination on Thursday.

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