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San Diego Volunteers Head To South Carolina For Hurricane Matthew Relief Effort

Chief Ann Graham, with the Isle of Palms Fire Department, raises two hurricane flags over the Isle of Palms Connector in preparation for Hurricane Matthew on Isle of Palms, S.C., October 6, 2016.
Associated Press
Chief Ann Graham, with the Isle of Palms Fire Department, raises two hurricane flags over the Isle of Palms Connector in preparation for Hurricane Matthew on Isle of Palms, S.C., October 6, 2016.
San Diego Volunteers Head To South Carolina For Hurricane Matthew Relief Effort
GUEST:Maurenn Kilkenny, Communications Director, American Red Cross of San Diego and Imperial counties

Red Cross volunteers from San Diego for getting Betty to help victims of hurricane Matthew and policy takes a backseat to claims of experience in the San Diego city Atty.'s race. This is KPBS midday edition . I Maureen Cavanaugh it is Friday, October 7. Our top story on midday edition as just reported on NPR Hurricane Matthew continues to travel of the northeastern coastline in Florida. The hurricane is already blamed for one death in the United States 650,000 people without power massive evacuations and unknown billions of dollars in damage. Most people have been told to move away from the hurricane, 70 people from our region are about to move toward it. They are volunteers from the American Red Cross of San Diego and counties will be deployed to help with Hurricane Matthew relief efforts that I spoke with the communications director for the regional Red Cross, Maureen Kilkenny. Welcome to the program. Thank you. Do nowhere in hurricane Matthew affected area the volunteers we set backs right now there are many airports closed so we are sending people to South Carolina and then once they get there, they will be rerouted to where they are needed. Does the Red Cross mobilize volunteers from all across the United States when there is a disaster? Oh, yeah. We have about 1900 volunteers right now coming from everywhere throughout the US get this disaster is too large for the local teams to take care of it so they need to branch out and ask all of us to help. Right. Now the Red Cross has about 27,000 people spent the night in shelters because of the hurricane and that number is expected to grow. What is it like inside one of the shelters? Well, you know, there's a variety of experiences. I think some people are very scared, of course. There's a lot of waiting in anticipation and kind of worrying and sometimes they create sort of worst-case scenario. It is really difficult for them so what we do at the Red Cross is make sure that they have a safe place and we provide as much comfort as we can and sometimes that's help and safety and we have nurses, mental health services so we want to provide a safe place that provide some comfort. There are 650,000 people without power in the region. Can you run shelters without power? You know, we stage ahead of time especially in disasters like this where they can see it coming and they move generators into place and we work closely with utilities so we have contingencies. It now, there is neither the U.S. and that need of course is growing because the storm is not finished the nation of Haiti has been devastated by this storm. You know the Red Cross is mounting relief efforts there? You know, we are focused on the U.S. in San Diego. I'm sure I do know the international Red Cross is putting together efforts but I don't know have any details about that gets okay. As I said forecasters say the hurricane may be getting closer and bigger to the coast of northern Florida, Georgia and South Carolina before it is through. You mentioned deploying people, you don't really know exactly where they are going to be deployed because of this bad weather. How do you get volunteers into at least close enough to these areas when the airports are shut down, maybe the roads have been damaged. How do you do that logistically? Oh, a variety of ways. We have emergency response vehicles located at Red Cross chapters throughout the United States so we have our own fleet. And then we just get creative, whatever is available. By thing, whatever is available, they will make it work. 17 people I suppose the number may actually go up, going from our region, can you tell us why they volunteer for this kind of work? That's great. The Red Cross disaster volunteer is really someone who will drop things at the moment's notice and help. And they are all really humble people. So they are just people who react when people are in need and what can I save it warmhearted people who want to help and don't really even care that they are going into a very difficult situation. They just want to do something. Do they have special skills? You know, a variety. We have some people who helped feed, some people who work in shelters. We have people are very savvy with IT and actually do GIS mapping. In the Red Cross there is really a great career path. People can come in and start one job, get experience and they moved to another level or another area that we do everything from feeding to sheltering to logistics to mapping to casework so we need everybody. And how has the red cross set up of special Hurricane Matthew fun for people who want to donate? I haven't heard that that has been established yet. People can always text 90999 and donate $10 and if you go to Red Cross.org, there will be details there about ways to donate as well. I have been speaking with Maureen Kilkenny and more income effect is so much. You are welcome.

Twelve volunteers from the American Red Cross of San Diego and Imperial counties have been deployed to help with Hurricane Matthew relief efforts and more will likely deploy throughout the weekend, officials say.

Most will work in shelters, giving comfort to displaced residents, and helping with feeding and moving supplies, among other duties.

"Hurricane Matthew is an extremely dangerous storm,'' said Bill Earley, regional chief executive officer for the American Red Cross of San Diego/Imperial Counties. "Hurricane Matthew could leave widespread devastation in its wake and untold amounts of need for food, shelter and help.''

Due to airport closures, most volunteers from San Diego will fly to South Carolina and be re-assigned throughout the affected area as needed.

"This is a time for neighbors and communities to come together and support one another,'' Earley said. "We are one Red Cross and are proud to help our sister regions throughout this disaster response.''

More than 27,000 people spent Thursday night in 198 Red Cross and community evacuation shelters in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina. That number was expected to grow.

In addition to shelters, the Red Cross has more than 1,800 disaster workers and 90 response vehicles ready to help in the affected states and more help is standing by.

The Red Cross has also positioned more than 30 trailer loads of shelter supplies, ready-to-eat meals, clean-up and comfort kits.

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