AP NEWS

Red Cross Wisconsin sending volunteers to help prep for Hurricane Florence​

September 12, 2018 GMT

At least 29 Red Cross of Wisconsin volunteers are bound for the southeastern coast to assist in what may be one of the most catastrophic hurricanes to hit the Eastern Seaboard in decades.

Hurricane Florence is expected to hit the Carolinas and Virginia late Thursday or early Friday. States of emergency have been declared and mandatory evacuations have been issued.

“This is a pretty intimidating looking hurricane,” Red Cross communications manager Justin Kern said. “There’s a strong likelihood that Red Cross (Wisconsin) will send more people.”

Kern said Tuesday morning that 16 volunteers would deploy to the southeastern coast. That number grew to 29 by the end of the day.

The Category 4 storm is drawing comparisons to Hurricane Harvey — which wreaked havoc on Houston last August — because forecasters say the storm may stall over the area for several days, flooding large areas of land.

Red Cross of Wisconsin sent 176 volunteers and paid staff to help during Harvey, Kern said. When hurricanes Irma, Maria and Nate are added, the number from Wisconsin about doubles.

Setting up and running shelters for the evacuees, driving emergency response vehicles where needed and distributing clean-up kits are among the activities volunteers will be tasked with in the rescue and recovery efforts, Kern said.

To donate or offer assistance, visit redcross.org.