Connecticut Red Cross volunteers are being deployed to Texas and California to help in wildfire relief efforts and ahead of the impact of Tropical Storms Marco and Laura.
Volunteers will be deployed physically and virtually, the American Red Cross said in a statement.
The company said they've been able to adapt a lot of positions that were previously in-person to virtual in an effort to keep their workers safe during COVID-19 while still responding to disasters. The Red Cross said they've had virtual volunteers in the past, but those who traditionally only for caseworkers.
Red Cross volunteers Janice Iglesias, Michael Reis, Kathleen Rook and Millie Rios are physically deploying to Texas and Neil Brockway will be virtually deployed. These volunteers will assist in sheltering efforts and overall operations before, during and after landfall.
“I couldn’t deploy on the ground. So I’m very happy to help virtually," Tracey Scheer said.
Scheer was able to help out in Connecticut following Tropical Storm Isaias just a couple of weeks ago. This time, from her home in Branford, she’s working to keep track of people in shelters in California.
“There are a lot of people and the evacuations can take place any time, in the middle of the night, during the day, so we have to be on our toes and track all these people and know where they are, provide them with food, provide them with casework to help with their recovery and mental health, physical health services. It’s a big responsibility," Scheer said.
The Red Cross said it has pre-positioned shelter and relief supplies all along the Gulf Coast in preparation of Marco and Laura's impact.
"While the exact paths and potential impacts of these storms are still uncertain, the Red Cross is coordinating with community partners and emergency officials to be ready to provide aid," a Red Cross spokesperson said.
Volunteers Eric Oubre, Rhianna Strobel-Farmer, Susan Delgado, Michelle Barnett and Cheryl MacKenzie are physically deploying to California and Tracey Scheer will be virtually deployed. These volunteers will also assist in sheltering efforts and overall operations management in response to the wildfires.
Red Cross said the threat of new wildfire in California remains high and they are preparing to expand relief efforts if needed. Disaster workers are focused on helping to make sure people who are evacuated have a safe place to stay, including shelters and emergency hotel lodging where possible, the Red Cross said.
“It’s very hazy. Landing here in San Juan it was very hazy," Oubre said. He’s an American Red Cross volunteer helping to run shelters.
“It’s the sense that I am able to give back to the community," Oubre said.