CLEVELAND — As Hurricane Laura takes aim at the Gulf Coast, volunteers from Northeast Ohio will be headed into the fray to lend a hand. And the Gulf Coast isn't the only area getting help from the Buckeye State, these volunteers are headed to disaster areas nationwide.
They're also helping out in Iowa which was hit with storms two weeks ago, and they’re heading to California to help out during wildfires.
There are 15 volunteers in that group from Northeast Ohio, including Mahogany Coward from Canton.
She became a Red Cross volunteer after they helped her following a disaster in her own home about five years ago.
Currently, she’s in Houston, helping people affected by Tropical Storm Marco and now on standby for Hurricane Laura to make landfall. Right now, she said they’re preparing shelters for people who could possibly become displaced.
Her job is to find out what supplies are needed, including water, snacks, and cots and then taking them to available shelters.
And on top of that, Coward said volunteers also have to keep the coronavirus pandemic in mind which means trying to maintain social distancing between themselves and people seeking help.
“We give a lot of compassion with the Red Cross, we sympathize, and that makes it a little difficult this time around to express that when you can't even shake a hand. So I'd say right now with the corona being involved, that's our biggest concern just trying to make the clients feel as comfortable as they can,” Coward said.
Nikki Stoffer, from Stark County, is one of three northeast Ohioans helping out in California. She said she's been doing deployments like these since Hurricane Katrina and this time she'll be helping find shelter for people displaced by the fires.
"I enjoy the sheltering aspect because you get to actually go out and meet people and, you know, hear their stories and just listen and try to offer some comfort and support for, you know, while they're going through this terrible time,” Stoffer said.
The Red Cross said it needs even more volunteers. Volunteers can help out with families who lose their homes in house fires, or be part of their National Disaster Response teams.
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