Red Cross offices seek more volunteers on Coast

Published 3:55 pm Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The Southeast Mississippi Chapter of the American Red Cross is seeking more local volunteers to help “fill the gaps” in coverage at shelters along the Gulf Coast, executive director Paige Roberts said.

Roberts said if a hurricane hits tomorrow, there would be enough volunteers to fully staff the 15 shelters that would open in Jackson and George counties but those volunteers would come from other areas because of the special circumstances along the Coast.

To be adequately staffed, Roberts said shelters require 10 to 15 volunteers each working three eight hour shifts. The Jackson and George county chapter volunteers would be ready for action in the event of an approaching storm with other volunteers needed to “fill in the gaps” to ensure that “services will be right where they need to be,” Roberts said.

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The Mississippi Gulf Coast Chapter, covering Harrison, Hancock and Pearl River counties, has enough local volunteers to staff half of its 17 shelters, said executive director Bill Brent. Other workers would come from out-of-state.

Roberts said local volunteers would be valuable to fill gaps in coverage because Coast residents know the area much better and know what the needs are.

“It is so much more valuable having local people doing the work here whenever possible,” she said. “It makes us a stronger Red Cross with a local presence.”