Skip to main content

LATEST UPDATES: Tracking COVID-19 | Vaccines | Racial Justice

Local American Red Cross Looking For More Volunteers After Devastating Hurricanes

About 100 people gathered at the local American Red Cross in Kearny Mesa Tues...

Credit: Matt Hoffman/KPBS

Above: About 100 people gathered at the local American Red Cross in Kearny Mesa Tuesday to learn how they can help people displaced by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. September 12, 2017.

When the American Red Cross asked volunteer Marie Sablan to join Harvey relief efforts, she was ready.

“When I got the phone call, I knew I had to go," said Sablan. "And my husband and my family know that this is like my calling."

A Chula Vista resident, Sablan deployed as a shelter worker in the small town of Sour Lake, about an hour and a half northeast of Houston. She left a week after Hurricane Harvey hit, and spent two weeks in the Midwest.

“These are families who have been displaced by floodwaters," said Sablan. "They’ve said they’ve had 4 feet of water, 7 feet of water up to 10 feet even. Some just completely washed away.”

Sablan said people staying in the shelters did not even have basic necessities.

Photo credit: American Red Cross

American Red Cross Volunteer and Chula Vista resident Marie Sablan poses for a photo while undertaking relief efforts near Houston, Texas in this undated photo.

“I did not see any suitcases," she said. "I’m telling you when they say you need to vacate, you better do it. So the families in our shelter basically left their home with what they were wearing and what they could grab on the way out."

RELATED: San Diegans Offer Help In Texas After Hurricane Harvey

At a special Red Cross training Tuesday, Sablan met nearly 100 volunteers interested in helping those displaced. After four hours of training, the volunteers are ready to deploy within 48 hours.

“We have to be flexible and we encourage our volunteers to have that flexibility, of course be ready to deploy," said interim CEO Charlene Zettel. "But I suspect that it will be in the next two weeks, three weeks, four weeks. This response is going to take a long time”

If tapped — volunteers would be deployed for at least two weeks, something that is not easy for their families.

“They’ll text me and they’ll go we saw, we just watched the news and so and so is getting flooded where are you are you safe," said Sablan.

As of Tuesday, American Red Cross said there were 33 volunteers from San Diego in Texas, and 31 in Florida.

The organization said they need shelter and case workers ready to deploy to Florida and Texas.


San Diego News Now podcast branding

San Diego news; when you want it, where you want it. Get local stories on politics, education, health, environment, the border and more. New episodes are ready weekday mornings. Hosted by Anica Colbert and produced by KPBS, San Diego and the Imperial County's NPR and PBS station.

  • Need help keeping up with the news that matters most? Get the day's top news — ranging from local to international — straight to your inbox each weekday morning.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Photo of Matt Hoffman

Matt Hoffman
Health Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksI am a general assignment reporter for KPBS. In addition to covering the latest news and issues that are relevant to the San Diego community, I like to dig deeper to find the voices and perspectives that other media often miss.

Want more KPBS news?
Find us on Twitter and Facebook, or sign up for our newsletters.

To view PDF documents, Download Acrobat Reader.