Local responders, volunteers deploying for Hurricane Sandy
CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) - In an effort to help storm victims on all levels, Chattanooga's Red Cross is sending an emergency response crew to the east coast ahead of Hurricane Sandy.
Forecasters expect Hurricane Sandy to hit two winter weather systems, creating a hybrid monster storm. A local Red Cross crew is trying to beat the storm to prepare residents and then be in place for recovery efforts.
Chattanooga Red Cross volunteers are loading up and heading to the coast of Virginia where waves are raging as Sandy churns toward land.
"Once we get to our manning stations we'll load up all the necessary resources in terms of food, snacks, cleanup kits," Chattanooga Red Cross volunteer Michael Puryear said.
Seeing the path of deadly destruction in Cuba, they know they need to be on the ground ASAP.
"We're preparing for the worst," Puryear said.
"'Frankenstorm," I believe it's going to be pretty rough," Chattanooga Red Cross volunteer Thomas Myers said.
"It could be the perfect storm in terms of storm surge, snowfall, rainfall," Puryear said.
They'll be relaying information back here as conditions worsen. They've put all local red cross volunteers on standby. "We serve our hot meals out of these right here," Puryear said.
They'll be delivering food, hygiene items, and bulk material for recovery as they scour the effected areas. "I'm there to make a difference in people's lives and to give them comfort and aid," Myers said.
They're ready to do what needs to be done for as long as necessary. It's a job that brings out a little Tennessee pride. "Let them know they're not alone," Puryear said.
Hamiton County's 50 person Disaster Medical Assistance Team was also deployed Saturday. DMAT-1 TN Commander Ted Rogers says the team will be staging in Maryland and will be ready to be dispatched anywhere in the northeast after the storm makes its way through the region.
This 50-person DMAT team is comprised of local healthcare professionals and support personnel, and is equipped with supplies and related items to make them self-sufficient in the event it is deployed in a devastated area that has no power and other basic necessities.
This team has responded to several large-scale disasters in the past, including Hurricane Katrina and the earthquake in Haiti.
The American Red Cross is also preparing to respond to Hurricane Sandy in East Tennessee and urges residents to get ready too. The Chattanooga chapter will deploy its Emergency Response Vehicle (ERV) to Ashburn, VA to assist with feeding and distributing supplies in areas affected by Hurricane Sandy.
"The East Tennessee Region is mobilizing volunteers, shelters, relief supplies and disaster vehicles to help," said David Hartsoe, Red Cross Emergency Services Specialist. "The best thing families can do is to get ready now by staying informed about Sandy's progress, listening to the advice of local authorities, checking their emergency supplies, and reviewing their household's emergency plan."
Across the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast, the Red Cross is moving disaster workers into areas that weather experts say will be affected by the storm and has more than 100 emergency response vehicles on alert.