(Memphis) Two volunteers with the Red Cross Mid-South chapter are among the many people traveling to help the disaster relief effort in Moore, OK.
Janelle Wynn and Linda Bomes left Tuesday morning around 9:00am, traveling toward the Oklahoma City gathering point where all Red Cross volunteers are to be assigned different duties.
Another two volunteers, Matthew Shumate from the Jackson, TN chapter, and Peggy Young, from the Mid-South Chapter, will leave for Oklahoma around 1:00p.m.
Wynn and Bomes took an Emergency Response Vehicle, equipped to deliver food.
“It’s going to be a war zone. it’s going to be like your hand and just wiped it across,” Bomes said.
Bomes has been a volunteer with the Red Cross since 1979 and now serves as a disaster action team leader. She has also been chasing storms for 25 years.
But this one is noticeably different.
“This tornado they reported was two miles wide at the base. I have never, never seen a tornado that wide,” she said.
While their vehicle can be used to go through neighborhoods and feed people not in shelters, Bomes and Wynn could be assigned to other duties, like working in the shelter, or doing damage assessment. They could also be talking to many of the survivors who have lost everything.
“Usually you can’t say it’s going to be alright. Usually we can’t say how it’s going to be. You just got to let them know that you’re there for them. And you got their back. And you’re going to do everything you can to help them get back up on their feet. It’s going to be a long, hard process for these people,” Bomes said.
Laura Vaughn, executive director of the Mid-South Red Cross chapter, said that it’s important for their team to work well with the many organizations also on the ground.
“It’s vital that we’re all working together, so instead of us duplicating efforts, we’re out there all doing and being productive for what the victims truly do need,” Vaughn said.
While the volunteers are not paid, the Red Cross relies on donations to maintain the vehicles, to buy fuel and feed the volunteers.
Every day, they help on average two to five residential fire victims, which costs $1,000 to $1,500. The cost for maintaining equipment and sending out teams for major disasters is much more.
“Unfortunately this year, it seems like every month there’s been an opportunity to deploy our volunteers in this area. But again, that’s why we exist,” Vaughn said.
News Channel 3 will be in Moore, OK, covering the work of both the Red Cross volunteers and Tennessee Task Force 1 from the Mid-South.