American Red Cross of Alaska volunteers help when disaster strikes
The American Red Cross of Alaska says they have sent 13 volunteers in early June to support disaster victims in several states. The volunteers are helping people affected by tornadoes and flooding in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma.
Bruce Whelan has been deployed with the American Red Cross several times since he went to Mississippi to assist victims of Hurricane Katrina.
Whelan helps operate the emergency response vehicle, or “ERV,” for the American Red Cross. The van responds to emergencies and other disasters when needed.
"I really like helping people, it's really a good feeling to bring them back," Whelan said. "You see them, some at times, at the worst moment of their lives, they've lost everything they own. You've given them some hope, you've given them a place to stay for a few nights, longer if we can."
Whelan helps train others who deploy in times of need. Shawn Ailport is among them who go through training at American Red Cross office.
"I think it's important to give back to people in the community. There are people out there experiencing difficult times, and I think it's really important to help them," Ailport said.
Texas dealt with major flooding from Hurricane Harvey in 2017. Alaska sent several Red Cross volunteers to help.
Volunteers typically get 24 hours notice before they are sent for up to two weeks. The days are about 15 hours long.
"It is very emotionally draining. You're dealing with some pretty bad tragedies out there," Whelan said. "The part that I think was the best for all of us was trying to give them some hope to come back."
American Red Cross of Alaska says its volunteers are among 1,000 workers who are helping to provide safe shelter, food and relief supplies. Red Cross says flooding along the Arkansas River may impact large communities and force people to leave their homes.
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