Red Cross Staging Isaac Volunteers In Memphis

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(Memphis) Thousands of volunteers are already in the Isaac disaster zone helping victims.

Many of them are staging in Memphis and getting their assignments from the Red Cross.

Friday morning outside the Red Cross headquarters in Midtown, 28 volunteers with Americorp got their marching orders.

Their destination is Hattiesburg, Mississippi.

"They said last night it took six hours to get there, so we're hoping for about five with daylight. We can stop for water cause like they said, it might be scarce when we're down there."

Americorp is a national service program, composed of men and women 18 to 24.

Team Leader Oliver Dougherty says the organization is always ready when the Red Cross needs them, "We give ten months of our time building homes, helping the environment and getting dispatched on disaster relief projects."

Days ago when Hurricane Isaac bore down on the U.S. Gulf Coast, the Red Cross began sheltering out-of-town volunteers in Collierville.

Red Cross Executive Director Laura Vaughn says more than two hundred have been riding out the storm and ready to roll, "Volunteers were flying into Memphis. We're staging them here and when things and conditions safe we are re-routing them down to Hattiesburg, Mississippi."

Where volunteers go and what they do from there depends on their training.

The Americorp volunteers are assigned to evacuee shelters.

Team Leader Lydia Boote encourages the volunteers to make the most of their
time. "Look for ways that we can help while we're down there since I'm sure there's going to be a lot that they need done," she says.

Most of these volunteers have never been to a disaster area.

The scene may be too overwhelming for some, so Laura Vaughn says the Red Cross will provide mental health counselors.

"We just want to make sure that everyone is taking care of themselves on-site. And that they are able to handle some of the things they may see while they're a part of the disaster relief operation," Vaughn says.

The closest Red Cross shelter to Memphis is located in Grenada, Mississippi.