Volunteers from our corner of the volunteer state are headed to help with the Oklahoma tornado disaster.
Norman Wilson and Kenneth Sheppard loaded the Red Cross emergency response vehicle based in Kingsport Tuesday morning. They're headed nearly one thousand miles to help. “We are activating to support the Red Cross in Oklahomas” said Glenda Bobalik of the Northeast Tennessee Chapter of the American Red Cross. “I think everyone has seen the devastation in Moore and the surrounding towns."
The truck stays loaded and ready to roll at a moment's notice. One of the volunteers just recently returned from Superstorm Sandy.
The Northeast Tennessee Chapter was notified late Monday night that they were being mobilized. Volunteers are not taking supplies with them; they will stop and purchase those once they are closer to Oklahoma and crews there tell them what is needed.
Once in Oklahoma, the two will be working directly with the victims. "Southern Baptist [church], they do the cooking and we deliver hot food,” says Wilson. “We take either a route through a community a certain street or we will setup on a certain corner and the police department would notify the people that the Red Cross is feeding."
Norman Wilson has helped with close to a dozen disasters. After seeing the destruction on television, he says he wasn't surprised he got the call to go help Monday night. "Most of my Red Cross stuff I have in one location. I pretty well know in an hour’s time I can be packed and ready to go," said Wilson.
More volunteers are likely to be sent from the Kingsport office over the next few weeks. Each volunteer is asked to prepare for a three-week stay.
Bobalik says volunteers return home after three weeks, but could be asked to make return trips.
Red Cross officials say one of the best ways people locally can help out is through financial donations.
The money will then be used to purchase the specific needs of the victims.