Volunteers with Red Cross travel to help flood victims

Eight volunteers from the Western Colorado Chapter of the American Red Cross wereheading to the Front Range on Saturday to help victims of disastrous floods that took four lives and caused widespread property damage.

Eric Meyers, executive director of the Western Colorado Chapter, said local volunteers will be assigned to locations where they are most needed.

“Our primary focus is on sheltering and providing mass care, which is sheltering, feeding and emotional support for those people who have been evacuated from their homes,” Meyers said.

More Western Colorado Red Cross volunteers are expected to be sent over the mountain during the coming week as Front Range volunteers return to their normal lives, he said. Saturday night, more than 700 people remained in Red Cross shelters across the disaster area, but those numbers normally increase as the disaster continues and families need to find a place to stay other than with friends and family, Meyers said.

“We get staffing requests on a daily basis,” he said. “What we really work on is making sure ... that we’re not sending volunteers from all across the state and all across the nation when we’ve got willing hands right there in their own backyard.”

Red Cross chapters stay connected through a centralized database that identifies the types of skills needed and where, Meyers said.

Local volunteers have been trained in feeding and mobile feeding, providing health services, including mental health services, operational management and coordinating with governmental agencies, among other skills, he said.

Right now, cash donations to http://www.redcross.org/Colorado are most needed, not clothing, blankets, or other bulk supplies. Cash donations can also be made by calling 1-800-RED-CROSS, Meyers said.

“This is why the Red Cross recruits and trains year-round. It really works hard to get volunteers in every single corner of the state to be able to help out when their community is affected,” he said. “As always, I’m inspired by what our volunteers are willing to sacrifice for total strangers.”


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