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More Kansas Red Cross Volunteers On Front Lines Of Hurricane Flood Recovery Efforts

Shannon Wedge
South Central and Southeast Kansas Red Cross
Red Cross Volunteer Dana Tulk of Wichita is taking a Red Cross emergency response vehicle to North Carolina.

More Red Cross volunteers from Kansas are joining relief efforts in flood-devastated areas of North and South Carolina.

Red Cross chapters in Kansas, Nebraska and southwest Iowa have sent 61 volunteers and staff to six different operations in the past week. At least 17 volunteers came from south-central and southeast Kansas.

So far, the Red Cross has sent five emergency response vehicles from Nebraska and Kansas. The latest one stocked with supplies left Monday from Coffeyville en route to North Carolina.

Becky LaPolice, the executive director of the Central and Western Kansas Red Cross chapter, is currently based in Florence, South Carolina.

LaPolice is helping with logistics for the Red Cross chapters in the flood-ravaged areas. The agency is providing meals, shelter and assistance to people dealing with the impact of Hurricane Florence.

Reaching flood victims is sometimes difficult because many roads and highways are still covered with water or closed, leaving some communities as islands.

“So that’s been the challenge," she says, "getting those supplies and resources to where they are needed because they are just cut off."

She says her team is working with local agencies to use boats to deliver food and supplies to some of those flooded communities.

“We have no way to drive into them because we don’t have high water vehicles. They were trying to be creative and get people with boats to transfer those hot meals [from Red Cross emergency response vehicles] to be able to deliver to some of those communities that are really cut off,” LaPolice says.

She talked with a couple from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, who evacuated before the hurricane made landfall. She says they were just starting to realize the depth of the destruction.

“They were so lucky to get out. Just the amount of damage that these homes sustained. I mean, eight feet of water! There’s very little you can say when you have eight feet of water in your home," LaPolice says. "So they’ve lost everything."

The governor of North Carolina says about 10,000 people remain in shelters and "countless more" are staying elsewhere.

A dozen nurses from the Kansas Army National Guard and Kansas Air National Guard were deployed Tuesday to North Carolina to work in shelters for the next two weeks.

More than 200 blood drives have been canceled this week due to Hurricane Florence. The Red Cross says it needs platelet and blood donations now, and in the coming days, to recover the donations canceled by the storm.

Follow Deborah Shaar on Twitter @deborahshaar. To contact KMUW News or to send in a news tip, reach us at news@kmuw.org.