American Red Cross workers and volunteers are some of the first people on the scene at all the disaster sites across the Heartland. But local crews are stretching their resources thin, and now there's a call for extra help. Local Red Cross chapters are asking the organization's national disaster resource system for help. In the Heartland this week, you'll find volunteers who have traveled hundreds of miles to lend a helping hand.
Mary Burton with the American Red Cross says, "It's been a real test for our resources at the Red Cross." A test that everyone who has been affected by this rash of storms has had to take. Storms that have tore through Heartland towns, like Dongola, have uprooted trees, and ripped off roofs. But the victims aren't the only people looking for help, so is the Red Cross. Burton says, "When the call comes at 3am, and you need to activate immediately, there are few people who will come help look for things like coffee and donuts."
Robert Farmer is just one Red Cross volunteer who answered that call. He decided to become a volunteer three years ago when he retired. He's from Bloomington, Illinois over two hundred miles away from Dongola. This is his first out of town trip as a volunteer, a job that's not as easy as it may look. "Volunteers are under a very severe stress situation, they're seeing devastation, and people at high stress levels that they've never seen before," Burton says.
Farmer and another volunteer loaded up the Red Cross truck a week ago in Bloomington, and drove three and a half hours to help out in Fairfield. Less than a week later, they packed up and restocked it with everything from cookies, to soda and water to help out the people in Dongola. Farmer says, "You see the people appreciate stuff and you hope you're never in that situation and need that help."
The American Red Cross also wants to remind people to donate blood. It's important that supplies are always stocked so there are plenty of donations when they're needed. Right now, there is a big need for O negative blood.