Minnesotans mobilize for Hurricane Florence

September 13, 2018

Some 37 Minnesota Red Cross volunteers are in place throughout the lower eastern seaboard awaiting a wicked swipe from Hurricane Florence.

“They’re doing everything from helping support evacuation centers to logistics, making sure our trucks and supplies are getting to the right places at the right time,” said Carrie Carlson-Guest, spokeswoman for the Twin Cities-based Red Cross.

Volunteers are in both Carolinas, Virginia and Georgia as well as the Washington, D.C., area, she said. Also on site are emergency response vehicles, the food trucks that can feed both workers and refugees from the storm, she said.

“We’re able to get resources in ahead of the storm,” Carlson-Guest said. Those resources include nurses to help victims who need medication or a compassionate ear.

With the storm spinning toward anticipated landfall Thursday, some airports have shut down and volunteers were set to shelter-in-place like everyone else, she said.

Both the Red Cross and Twin Cities-based Salvation Army are poised to head down after Florence strikes to support residents and volunteers, a need that could stretch across 11 states. Unlike the Red Cross, the local Salvation Army crews are standing by. Staff and volunteers from Nechama, a Burnsville-based relief group, have been preparing to move north to Atlanta from Texas where they’ve been working on Harvey cleanup since last year.

Nechama usually goes in after the storm has moved out, providing free “muck and gut” work to needier residents. Executive director David Kaplan said Nechama clears out the filthy water, takes a home down to its studs to prevent mold and helps with the rebuilding. They provide the work free.

They currently have up to 40 volunteers from all over the country in Puerto Rico and Texas. By next week, they will have five staff members and two volunteers in Atlanta ready to roll. “That way we’re just a hop, skip and a jump away from the Carolinas and [coastal] Georgia,” Kaplan said.

Salvation Army Maj. Rae Doliber said four Twin Cities-based canteen trucks that can cook and provide meals are ready to go where they’re needed after the hit. “We’re still waiting for Florence to decide what she’s going to be,” Doliber said.

The Salvation Army will not be looking for new volunteers; they already have trained and credentialed personnel ready to go, she said.

Carlson-Guest said the Red Cross is always looking for volunteers. “This isn’t the only storm out there,” she said. More immediately, she said anyone who wants to help can donate blood locally or $10 by texting “Florence”to 90999.

Throughout the storm’s anticipated path, blood donations have ceased but “the need doesn’t stop. There are still going to be people that have cancer, that have car accidents,” she said.

Meanwhile, on the ground, it’s take cover and wait to see what Florence leaves behind.

“We’re always praying,” Doliber said.

Rochelle Olson • 612-673-1747 Twitter: @rochelleolson

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