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Local Red Cross volunteers to help Fla. flood victims

By Staff | May 28, 2009

Four Lee County American Red Cross volunteers have been deployed to the Daytona Beach area to assist in humanitarian efforts after flash flooding damaged or destroyed hundreds of homes last week.
Robin Moore, Suzanne Weiss, Ron Saberton and Betty Conley expect to spend about two weeks helping the Coast to Coast American Red Cross chapter in the Volusia and Flagler counties area, according to spokesperson Colin Downey.
Flooding from recent rains has affected approximately 1,500 homes and destroyed several throughout the area.
The four are slated to spend a couple of weeks helping affected residents, but ultimately they will stay as long as they are needed, whether that period of time is longer or shorter.
“There’s a lot of preparation that goes into it before they leave,” Downey said. “You never know going into one of those things how long you’re going to be there.”
The volunteers are on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and are ready to help within hours of being notified of a disaster.
Moore is a client case worker along with Weiss, a position which entails interviewing clients to assess their needs. They arrived in the area Wednesday afternoon, and their first task was to organize flooding information collected by the agency.
Moore said the opportunity to help those in need compelled her to volunteer for the Red Cross into her retirement years. She has been with the organization for two and a half years.
“The clients that we talk to, sometimes they’ve experienced a really desperate situation,” Moore said. “We all have a passion for being volunteers for the Red Cross and being trained to respond to disasters.”
According to the Associated Press, flash flooding — sparked by more than 21 inches of rain last week — caused approximately $55.1 million in losses.
Executive Director of Florida’s Coast to Coast American Red Cross chapter Dan Roll said about 70 volunteers from across the state have gathered to help for disaster relief.
“In Florida we really partner with our neighbors,” he said. “Ninety percent of our disaster response is run by volunteers. That’s what makes our services so valuable. They have been driving our emergency response vehicles, running our shelters, loading supplies and working out in the flooded areas, which are often humid and muggy.”
Roll said he is grateful to neighboring Red Cross chapters for helping the damaged areas, which were most heavily concentrated along low-lying expanses of U.S. Highway 1.
Since May 20, the Red Cross has opened three shelters, one of which remained open Wednesday evening with approximately 27 flood victims.
Volunteers also have handed out nearly 1,000 cleanup kits, including bleach, mops, buckets and other cleansing and sanitizing materials, Roll said.
President Barack Obama recently approved FEMA aid for the area.
The Associated Press reported that Gov. Charlie Crist requested as much as $50 million in federal disaster relief for the flood victims.
The Red Cross works with county and city officials and not-for-profit agencies communitywide in its disaster relief efforts, Roll said.
To learn more about the Lee County American Red Cross, visit: www.arclcc.org.
Information about the Coast to Coast chapter is available at: www.flcoasttocoastredcross.org.