Local Red Cross workers join Isabel relief effort

By Thomas Wilson
Three Carter County residents are taking part in disaster relief efforts under the American Red Cross for victims of Hurricane Isabel.
Coordinator of the Carter County American Red Cross office, Bridget Hurt, said Wednesday the disaster relief workers left for the North Carolina coast this week to join hundreds of Red Cross workers in relief efforts.
"They called and said they were on their way to deliver 1,800 meals to workers, people needing relief who evacuated and other people who did not evacuate," said Hurt. "They will be there for three weeks."
Isabel roared up the East Coast late last weekend forcing evacuations in North Carolina and Virginia and causing flooding into West Virginia. The storm knocked out power to millions in the Carolinas, Virginia and West Virginia and is being blamed for at least 40 deaths. President Bush issued disaster declarations for Virginia, North Carolina, Maryland, Delaware and the District of Columbia.
Preliminary damage estimates by the American Red Cross indicated more than 39,000 homes damaged by the storm. Of those, over 1,300 homes were reportedly destroyed and 11,000 others were damaged to the point of being uninhabitable, according to Red Cross estimates.
Hurt said the volunteers would be performing damage assessments, interviewing storm victims to assess their immediate needs, and providing food and shelter service for victims. Volunteers receive specialized training locally and have worked on disaster response events in East Tennessee before assignments to larger natural disasters.
More than 1,000 Red Cross volunteers, 127 emergency response vehicles (ERVs) and two mobile feeding units set up early relief operations for the Red Cross recovery network last weekend with efforts expanding throughout the week. The Emergency Response Vehicle from the Kingsport Area Chapter of the Red Cross is part of a fleet of agency vehicles providing assistance along the coast of the Carolinas damaged by Hurricane Isabel. Over 250,000 meals/snacks have been provided since the storm, according to the Red Cross.
The volunteers were selected through the Kingsport Area Chapter of the Red Cross, which is the parent chapter to the Carter County office. Nine disaster relief workers from the Kingsport office are also assigned to the organization's relief operation. The volunteers will also spend three weeks working with victims of Isabel.
A new round of severe weather struck areas affected by Isabel on Wednesday night.
The Carter County office counts approximately 50 volunteers, Hurt said.