Heartland Volunteers Helping Hurricane Victims

Heartland Volunteers Helping Hurricane Victims
By: Wendy Ray

Hurricane Katrina is calling for the largest mobilization to a single disaster in American Red Cross history. Every chapter in the country has been asked to help,

including three volunteers from the Cape Girardeau chapter of the Red Cross who left for Miami Sunday morning. The volunteers' help is definitely needed. In fact, so many volunteers are needed that it's changing some Red Cross rules.

Kristi Thurman, director of emergency services of the Cape Girardeau Red Cross says, "This is one of the biggest disasters we've had in a very long time." Tina Pattengill of Scott City, Tina Bles of Cape Girardeau, and Adam Moore of Oak Ridge all answered the call to help Hurricane Katrina's victims. They're already in Miami and are seeing a lot of damage. "We're seeing trees that are uprooted, roots and all. There are golf courses with junk all over them and palm trees are bent over," Tina Pattengill says in a phone interview. Pattengill, Bles, and Moore may be sent to the Florida panhandle as early as Tuesday. This is the first disaster for both Pattengill and Bles; Moore helped out after Hurricane Dennis.

"It looks like they'll be doing bulk distribution for a while, then working in the shelter doing mass care, and taking care of displaced homeowners," Thurman with the Cape Red Cross says. Thurman is recruiting more people to help with the hurricane, even waving a lot of requirements they usually have for volunteers. "Normally they'd have to have a doctor's statement to say they're in good health. Basically what we're saying now is we don't have to have that if they're in good health. In addition we usually require volunteers to have first aid and CPR training and we are waving that requirement," she says.

Thurman adds that life experiences will give volunteers all the training they need. First time volunteer Tina Pattengill agrees. "I'm a retired school teacher and when I retired I thought of myself as not retiring, just switching roads," Pattengill says.

Since there is such a great need for volunteers, those from the Cape chapter may be gone for three weeks. I f you would like more information on becoming a volunteer, call 573-335-9471. Donations also are always needed.