Disaster Volunteers Needed for Local Organizations

MONROE -- Hurricane season begins this Sunday. This week has been designated National Hurricane Preparedness Week.

When a major storm strikes, many volunteers are needed at evacuation shelters.

With hurricane season only a few days away, volunteer organizations in Louisiana are preparing. They're asking for community help to take care of evacuees who travel north for shelter in the event of a major storm.

"They're coming from a devastating situation," explained Gail Eason, a volunteer with Red Cross of northeast Louisiana. "They need to know that we're here for them. We're going to be here for them. "

During a disaster, sometimes help comes out of the woodwork.

"You may not have heard from anybody since Isaac or Katrina. And then all of a sudden you see volunteers that strictly want to do the shelters," mentioned Kristie Bruce, Manager of the Northeast Louisiana Chapter of the American Red Cross.

The Red Cross of northeast Louisiana has dozens of shelters and over 200 volunteers. The organization recruits and trains new volunteers every year.

"I like to help and serve people. Especially those people in need like that," Rick Van Loon, a Red Cross volunteer. "My parents always taught me to give back whenever you can."

During major hurricanes, the Louisiana Volunteers in Action (LAVA) also sets up a shelter specifically for medical services in Monroe.

"We have one special needs shelter which is located at ULM Coliseum," said Sheila Hutson, the Region 8 LAVA coordinator.

The Fant-Ewing Coliseum can service 150 people or more.

Like the Red Cross, that organization is in need of volunteers. But, they're especially looking for people with a medical background.

"Doctors, nurses, physicians, pharmacists... anyone along those lines. Nurse practitioners, LPNs, anyone like that we can use," said Hutson.

"Everybody has something to give," Eason said. "So, I would suggest that if you have the least bit of an inkling that you want to do this, come on."

Visit the Red Cross website or the Louisiana Volunteers in Action website if you are interested in volunteering.

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