As Hurricane Dorian bore down on the Bahamas headed toward the Eastern Seaboard, 10 American Red Cross volunteers from Utah and Nevada arrived in the East Coast to offer assistance.
The Red Cross is getting ready to help as many as 60,000 people in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina, the nonprofit said Monday. With sustained winds of 185 mph making it one of the strongest hurricanes ever recorded, Hurricane Dorian made landfall Sunday in the Bahamas, killing at least five people. By Monday the National Hurricane Center reported that the storm had lost speed, and downgraded Dorian from a Category 5 to a Category 4 hurricane.
The Red Cross is still preparing for the worst, and has sent 1,600 volunteers to affected communities. Because the storm’s path and how many communities it will hit is still unclear, the Red Cross is not sure how many more volunteers they will need to deploy, but Kirsten Stewart, a spokeswoman for the Red Cross’ Nevada/Utah region, said they have more volunteers on standby.
The Red Cross has more than 500 volunteers in Nevada and Utah who are trained to respond to emergencies like this one, Stewart said. One of the volunteers that travelled to the East Coast this weekend is a Nevada nurse.
“It’s really selfless on their part because they’re picking up and leaving their own families, their own lives to go help a community they don’t know in time of a disaster,” Stewart said.
Cynthia De La Torre, a spokeswoman for Red Cross of the Nevada/Utah region, visited residents in Orlando and Melbourne, Fla. on Monday. She said the residents have boarded up their homes and have their emergency kits ready.
“They are in very high spirits and it's just kind of waiting it out to see what happens,” De La Torre said.
There are 60 Red Cross and community evacuation centers in Florida that sheltered close to 3,000 people as of Sunday, she said.
Stewart said the Red Cross can’t send more volunteers to the East Coast until flights to the affected areas are re-established.