Red Cross prepared for local emergency, despite sending voluntee - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Red Cross prepared for local emergency, despite sending volunteers down south

Dave Nelson, Courtesy: HSHS Sacred Heart and St. Joseph’s Hospitals Dave Nelson, Courtesy: HSHS Sacred Heart and St. Joseph’s Hospitals

Altoona (WQOW) -- Currently, more than 3,500 Red Cross volunteers from across the country are in Texas and Louisiana helping Harvey victims. Many others are headed to Florida to help people prepare for Hurricane Irma. 

Twenty-four volunteers from Wisconsin have been pre-deployed to Florida. More than 100 others are already in Texas, including 10 local volunteers. 

To put that into perspective, Kyle Kriegl, the executive director of the Red Cross for Northwest Wisconsin, said 80 volunteers from around the state were sent to Chetek in the spring after a deadly tornado ripped through the area. 

But, even with so many people providing relief in other parts of the country, Kriegl said our local Red Cross is still prepared to handle any emergency at home. 

"We do have a lot of our local volunteers that are deployed down there for those disasters," Kriegl told News 18. "We are moving things around, we are flexible, but we are always making sure that local services will be continuing to be met." 

There's certainly no shortage of helping hands. Kriegl said typically the Red Cross will get about 12,000 people across the country to sign up as volunteers every month. Just last week, however, more than 30,000 people signed up to volunteer. 

Follow the link for more information on how to sign up to become a Red Cross volunteer

News 18 checked in with a local Red Cross volunteer on Thursday, who has been busy helping people in Dallas since Hurricane Harvey hit. When Dave Nelson left for Texas last week, he told News 18 it was his very first national deployment with the Red Cross. 

On Thursday, Nelson said he's helping people at area shelters, many of whom arrived with just the clothes on their back. He said some people down there will be without a place to go for months. 

"Most of these people are from the Beaumont, Port Arthur, Orange, Texas area, the small coastal towns that are still under water as we speak," Nelson told News 18 in a phone interview. "They will be here probably for the next 90 to 120 days minimum as they try to empty out the water from many of those towns."

"This is going to be a long, going-on operation that we will be here to help provide some assistance to all these evacuees," he said. 

Nelson also said he'll be in Texas for another week before heading back home to Wisconsin. Though his return will be short lived, he expects to be deployed again in October to either Florida or back to Texas. 

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