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Kansas Red Cross Sends Volunteers To Areas Impacted By Hurricane Irma

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Mark Wilson
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People inspect their neighborhood that was flooded by Hurricane Irma in Bonita Springs, Fla. On Sunday, Hurricane Irma hit Florida's west coast, leaving widespread damage and flooding.

More than two dozen newly trained Red Cross volunteers from Kansas are being deployed to hurricane-damaged areas in Texas, Florida and the Virgin Islands.

The south-central Red Cross chapter held a disaster training session in Wichita over the weekend to get the volunteers ready to serve.

Executive Director Jennifer Sanders says the volunteers will likely help at evacuation centers.

"Some of them will get deployed to Texas to replace some of the volunteers who are returning from Texas, and some of them will go on to Florida or Georgia depending on the need to support the efforts in those locations as well," Sanders says.

She says the new volunteers will join a team of 20 volunteers sent over the weekend to Florida and the Virgin Islands so they would be available to respond immediately to Hurricane Irma destruction.

Two volunteers who made it the Virgin Islands Sunday told Sanders they’re seeing “complete devastation.” She says planning for deployment to the Virgin Islands, which took a direct hit from Hurricane Irma, was different than preparing to serve in Texas.

"They were literally told, 'Be prepared, you may have to sleep under the stars. You may not have access to cell phones. There’s no power.' So to anticipate basically being out of touch with folks because we may or may not be able to get you connected so making sure their families understand they may not hear from them for a few days until things can get established there," Sanders says.

About 50 volunteers from Kansas are still helping in the Houston area hit by Hurricane Harvey two weeks ago.

Sanders says three additional “Just in Time” half-day disaster volunteer training sessions are scheduled for Sept. 23 in Wichita, and Sept. 16 and 30 in Coffeyville.

She says with two major hurricanes and the massive wildfires in the western U.S., the Red Cross is looking to increase its volunteer ranks.

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Follow Deborah Shaar on Twitter @deborahshaar

 
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