NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — As Hurricane Ian smashes into Florida’s coast, the American Red Cross is in desperate need of more volunteers.
The organization depends on volunteers to perform 90% of its work. However, the Red Cross lost many of its volunteers amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Some slowed or stopped working with the group during the pandemic and never came back.
The Red Cross is hosting expedited training sessions to quickly recruit more volunteers, which last around four hours.
“We’re used to so many disasters, so I want to know how to help officially,” Emmit Martin, who attended the training session on Wednesday, Sept. 28, said. “I’ve lived through a lot of tornadoes, but I think the key is just having people down there to help who are trained to know how to help them.”
During the session, volunteers were trained on how to become shelter workers with the Red Cross.
There are nearly 30 Red Cross volunteers from Tennessee already in Florida ahead of Hurricane Ian recovery efforts, but more are expected to arrive in the coming days.
“We help people on their worst day of their lives,” said Michael Hare, the Red Cross disaster program manager for the Nashville Area. “We’re there to meet their needs, to help provide for the things that they’re going to need to recover, and there’s nothing, I think, more meaningful than dedicating your work or time to something like that.”
The Red Cross expects to filter volunteers in and out of Florida for the next few months, providing food, shelter, and emotional support to disaster survivors. Volunteers can expect to be deployed for two weeks at a time for national disaster recovery.
“When people, they show up at a shelter and see people wearing that red vest, that universal sign of hope, it really is a reassuring thing,” Hare said. “We see that calmness take over, and as they walk in, there’s almost that first recognition of, ‘it might actually be okay.'”
📧 Have breaking come to you: Subscribe to News 2 email alerts →
Chapters within the Red Cross Tennessee region will continue to host expedited training sessions throughout the week.
The Nashville Area Chapter will hold a session on Saturday, Oct. 1 at 2 p.m. at 2201 Charlotte Avenue in Nashville.
Meanwhile, the Heart of Tennessee Chapter will hold a training session Thursday, Sept. 29 at 9 a.m. and 2 p.m., and Saturday at 9 a.m. at 501 Memorial Boulevard in Murfreesboro.
To donate to the Red Cross, click here.