Hoosiers to play role in hurricane disaster relief
ST. JOSEPH COUNTY, Ind. – Right now, Hurricane Florence, now a Category 4, is inching closer and closer to the East Coast.
Now hundreds of miles to the west, people in our area, are at the ready to help potential victims.
Indiana is expected to play a major role in hurricane relief over the next couple weeks.
The American Red Cross is sending more than 700 disaster workers, dozens of them being Hoosiers, to regions needing help. The organization provides shelter, food, clean up, and health services among many other assignments.
Indiana Michigan Power is expected to send 200 contractors and employees to help with restoration.
Here in Michiana, 18 people from the MABAS Division 201 Technical Rescue Team from South Bend, Mishawaka, Elkhart, Warsaw and Goshen Fire Departments left for Raleigh, North Carolina today. They’ll be gone for 10 days and be self-sustainable for 72 hours.
American Red Cross Executive Director Kristin Marlow–Kelleman leaves for the East Coast on Thursday night.
“I’m excited to make an impact and a difference in the lives of people who are potentially going to lose everything in this storm,” she said.
Marlow–Kelleman explained the important role the American Red Cross will play in disaster relief.
“The devastation is going to be widespread,” said Marlow–Kelleman.
She said Indiana prepared materials, emergency vehicles, and staff last week to be ready for the call.
“We’re kinda centrally located where we can logistically get to places where we are needed quickly and efficiently,” she said referencing being located in the Midwest.
As millions are evacuating from the coast, Susan Dietsch made the trip from South Bend back home to North Carolina just yesterday.
“We are literally in the direct path. I’m in Wilmington, North Carolina, right across the bridge from Wrightsville Beach,” Dietsch explained.
She was visiting family in South Bend this week.
“I was visiting my step sister who lives in South Bend. I was scheduled to come home yesterday anyhow, but at the time I made flight arrangements I had no idea a hurricane would be heading our way.”
She explained the conditions back home as people prepare for the storm.
“Supplies are low on everything from plywood to water.”
In preparation, Dietsch has been boarding up her house and gathering supplies like flashlights, batteries, generators and fuel.
Having clean drinking water is one worry in Diestsch’s mind, but despite uncertainty, she believes she will be prepared and safe during the storm.
“We kind of know how to keep ourselves safe, as safe as you can be, not knowing what the outcome will be. But there are folks who are maybe a little less prepared and trying to ride it out, so i would say send positive thoughts for them,” she said.
As disaster relief workers head into the chaos, there is a reason.
“We can be the brightest part of someone’s worst day, sometimes just by being there and letting them know that there is hope and there are services available,” Marlow-Kelleman said.
The American Red Cross will need volunteers in Indiana.
Officials say blood donations will be critical in the next week.