UPDATE: Chattanooga Red Cross to provide aid to NC tornado victims
CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) -- As we speak, volunteers from our local American Red Cross are on their way to tornado-ravaged North Carolina.
More than 20 deaths have been confirmed in that state alone, after the same storm system that hit us Friday night moved East.
Nearly a hundred homes were destroyed and the death toll is expected to rise, as clean up efforts get underway.
The chapter got word Sunday afternoon. The volunteers left just 2 hours ago in their emergency response vehicle, with instructions to get there as quickly as they can.
"They called around 1 p.m. and said who do you know of that can go or can you go?" says Red Cross volunteer Will Rowe of the phone call that changed his afternoon. "I said, well okay."
It's not quite the way Rowe and Frank Stobbe expected the end their weekends, but when you're a volunteer for the Red Cross the unexpected is just part of the job.
"Here it is 3 p.m. and we're on our way to Raleigh," Rowe says.
Raleigh North Carolina, the state hardest hit by a storm system that spawned dozens of tornadoes from Oklahoma to Virginia.
"With the vehicle we're taking we'll be able to take meals, snacks and water out in the areas where they're in the process of cleaning up," Rowe says.
In addition to those volunteers already in Raleigh, the Red Cross is calling on 30 extra personnel regionally to help with disaster relief.
"The local chapters are taking care of all the equipment, supplies and food we'll need," says Claudia Moore with Chattanooga Red Cross. "Basically we're taking the vehicle down and that's our primary responsibility."
The men have no idea where they'll be once they arrive. But they do know they'll be handing food to just about anyone.
"We don't worry whether they're victims or people working on rehabilitation," Rowe says. "Telephone workers, electricians, fire fighters we don't care."
One thing they do know after years of dealing with disaster victim's is how important it is to treed lightly.
"You can be to aggressive as you reach out to them and turn them off," Rowe says. "Approach the kids, if the kids come the parents will follow. That many times is your vehicle."
The volunteers expect to be gone for at least two weeks or until the disaster command center in Raleigh shuts down.