East Tennessee Red Cross volunteers travel to Louisiana to help flood victims

2 disaster relief Red Cross volunteers left Knoxville Sunday to help provide aid to flood victims.

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Two disaster relief Red Cross volunteers from East Tennessee arrived in the Baton Rouge area late Sunday night.

The Red Cross chapter in Knoxville received a phone call from the chapter in Baton Rouge requesting immediate help. Volunteers brought an emergency response vehicle to Louisiana. For two weeks, they will be delivering food and other supplies to people who are not leaving their homes and going to shelters during the floods.

“A little excitement, anticipation,” said Alphonso Hudson, one of the two volunteers going. This is his first deployment with the Red Cross.

“This is not going to be an easy deployment,” said Stewart Chapman, a volunteer going on his 50th deployment. “Floods are a little worse cause you don’t know what you are getting into.  Roads are closed. Bridges are out.”

During their two weeks in the Baton Rouge area, Hudson and Chapman will helping victims like Melanie Sherwood’s family. Her mother and sister’s home is flooded with two feet of water.

“That neighborhood has been there for 60 years and it has never flooded over there. They woke up at 6:30 this morning to water inside their house,” said Sherwood.

Her mother is at a shelter but her sister is staying at the house until the water rises again. Although Sherwood now lives in Knoxville, she grew up in the Baton Rouge area as a kid. It brings tears to her eyes to see her community consumed by water.

“It blows my mind that there is that much water in this day and age in that area,” said Sherwood.

However, it helps knowing crews like the Red Cross volunteers are leaving Knoxville to Louisiana.

“They have huge hearts and Louisiana needs it,” said Sherwood. The Red Cross chapter in Knoxville has several other volunteers ready to go, if needed. However, they say they need more.

“Places are dropping off and we need new people and people who are dedicated to work,” said Chapman.

More volunteers are heading to Louisiana Tuesday morning. This time, they are CAC AmeriCorps volunteers. Monday was their first day at their East Tennessee service assignments. Instead, they were called to another location: Baton Rouge.

“I feel like it’s kind of a once in a lifetime experience to be able to go down and really help people out when they really need it,” said Christine Doka, who grew up in Oak Ridge.

Another volunteer going with the AmeriCorps group is Sarah Carman, who actually grew up in Louisiana and has only been away from Baton Rouge for two weeks.

“It will be weird to see it so different from when I left,” said Carman. “It’s already been hard so at least I’ll be able to do something.”

The Red Cross says anyone interested in becoming a volunteer, now is the time. The Red Cross East Tennessee chapter has a training session next week. Volunteers must be 18 years or older and pass a background check to participate. Visit redcross.org to sign up.

To help people affected by the Louisiana Floods, visit redcross.org, call 1-800-RED CROSS or text the word LAFLOODS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

 

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