LEXINGTON, Ky. (FOX 56) – As Kentucky prepares for more severe weather, some Kentucky volunteers have just arrived in recent-disaster hit states, California and Mississippi.
The American Red Cross’s Disaster Action Team has just deployed more than a dozen Kentucky volunteers to California where flash flooding has destroyed many parts of the state, and five more volunteers to Mississippi where a tornado just ripped through.
Nikki Salladay, American Red Cross assistant director of workforce in the California region, said “There’s still some communities we’re still having to use boats to get volunteers across to.”
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Salladay is from Lousiville, but she’s accompanied by Kentuckians from as far as eastern to western Kentucky, and three from Lexington.
Salladay said many Kentuckians are eager to volunteer because it’s their way of paying it forward to the California volunteers who came out to help with disaster relief in Kentucky’s time of need, “For some volunteers, the driver is, ‘I’m going to go somewhere else because they came here.”
The volunteer crews are doing everything handing out meals to managing shelters.
“This particular response, we’ve done over 67-thousand meals and snacks,” Salladay said. “We’ve got over 13,000 shelter stays. We’ve been operating 62 relief shelters just for this flooding.”
Five Kentuckians also arrived this week in Mississippi, where a tornado a mile-wide caused massive destruction just days ago.
Steve Cunanan, American Red Cross regional chief executive officer said, “Pictures don’t do this justice.”
Cunanan describes the destruction in Mississippi to be vast and the smells of the debris to be so strong.
Kentucky volunteers are getting into their roles helping with mobile feeding, giving medical care, and assessing damages.
“There’s about 2,000 structures that were damaged,” Cunanan said.
However, there is one service that is mostly needed, and Kentuckians understand how to give it from first-hand experience.
“We’re providing mental health assistance. These are such traumatic events that folks really do need mental health care and spiritual care and assistance,” Cunanan said.
American Red Cross said it is watching the severe weather in Kentucky, before sending more volunteers out. More will be needed in Alabama and Georgia.
To volunteer with the American Red Cross Disaster Action Team visit their website.