PHOENIX - Phoenix volunteers with American Red Cross will fly out Tuesday morning to lend a helping hand as people in the hardest-hit towns of Kentucky struggle to recover after storms and tornadoes touched down.
"You know, we’ve been preparing for all types of disasters and especially tornados," said Laura King, a disaster program manager with American Red Cross, serving the Arizona and New Mexico region.
She prepares to serve the people of western Kentucky where at least 74 are dead due to a tornado outbreak. Homes were leveled, reduced to massive piles of debris.
King will lead about 20 volunteers, offering food, water and shelter to those in need.
"We provide emotional support and just basic comfort during their time in need right now," she said.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic, King says virtual support has increased. Volunteers who can't make the trip will be ready online, helping with multiple types of service.
"Our priority would be definitely to be in person, 'cause nothing beats an in-person presence during a disaster, but we can reach more people through virtual opportunities," King explained.
The recovery phase is only beginning. The town of Mayfield, Kentucky has major infrastructure damage. That's where King and her team are headed, as well as other impacted areas.
Volunteer groups could contribute for two-week shifts before they get much-needed rest.
"To give them rest, we send them out and bring in a new fresh team to keep the recovery process moving," King said.
Once the volunteers arrive, they'll have about 300 people helping in the efforts.
American Red Cross can always use help, such as financial donations and blood.
"We’re ready to hit the ground running. We’re working around the clock. We have folks that will be running shelters, providing emotional support and supplies. Sometimes the families, they don’t have access to their medication that they need right away, so that’s really important. We help them with that …," she said.
King says volunteers will stay as long as needed.
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