Upstate Red Cross Ready To Respond, If Called To Oklahoma
GREENVILLE, S.C. -
Volunteers from the Greenville and Western Carolina region of the Red Cross are preparing, should they be called to assist tornado victims in Oklahoma. "Right now, we're in standby mode," says Tony Reid, Regional Disaster and Program Officer for the Greenville Office. Reid says as soon as the storm hit Monday, his office alerted hundreds of volunteers and told them to be ready, if needed. "We're waiting for the staff request to be posted at this point, but we're not just sitting here idle," Reid says. "We're preparing our volunteers for what they may be facing, and giving them updated training materials. That way they're fully prepared to step off the plane and go to work."
No one knows quite what the scene in Oklahoma might be, quite like Roger Myers. Through eight years volunteering with the Red Cross, Myers has been to dozens of disasters. The one he remembers the most is eerily similar to Oklahoma. "I see the pictures in Oklahoma on TV and it would be hard to tell that wasn't Joplin," Myers says. Myers spent three weeks in Joplin, Missouri following the massive tornado that took lives there in 2011. As a caseworker, Myers believes one of the most important roles for responders is counseling victims in the early days following the tragedy. "We're getting the raw emotion of what happened to these folks, and once you hear their stories and go through the footprint of the tornado, you wonder how anyone made it out alive."
If the call comes to the Upstate office, Reid says they could need workers trained in shelter assistance, food preparation and distribution, and mental health counseling. The demand comes at a time the office desperately needs more volunteers to sign up to help year round. "We need help now, but we also need help in the future," says Brian Scoles, chief public affairs officer for the Western Carolina Region.
If you'd like to volunteer with the Red Cross, simply go to their website or call the local office at (864) 271-8222.