PARKERSBURG - The Mid-Ohio Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross is preparing to aid communities in and out of the area as Hurricane Sandy hits land.
To aid with the statewide and national response to the storm, the local chapter has deployed six volunteers and one staff member, said financial development director Sharon Kesselring.
"We are preparing as we do for every disaster, by deploying volunteers throughout the state with emergency response vehicles and being in position to respond as soon as weather permits," Kesselring said.
Eleanor Westfall of Mineral Wells prepares for her first deployment as a volunteer with the Mid-Ohio Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross on Monday morning. Local volunteer Larry Edwards is leading the area response to the national event. (Photo by Jolene Craig)
Chapter emergency services director Todd Wines and two volunteers are at the Red Cross state headquarters in Charleston while four other volunteers have been deployed to the eastern panhandle with the chapter's emergency response vehicles. All of those deployed are positioned throughout the state to respond where needed as soon as weather permits, according to Kesselring.
"This is what we do best," said Sharon Callow, executive director of the chapter. "Right now we are just waiting to see what the storm brings and we will go from there."
Local volunteer Larry Edwards is stationed in Parkersburg to lead the local Mid-Ohio Valley response to the national event.
The chapter volunteers and staff began preparations on Friday and worked through the weekend to put approximately 25 volunteers on alert.
"I was called on Saturday and told to prepare for a two-week deployment," said new volunteer Eleanor Westfall of Mineral Wells. "Today I am on my way to Charleston to see what happens now."
Westfall joined the Red Cross following the devastating June 29 wind storm that caused widespread power outages throughout the region and beyond, and this is her first deployment.
"After the derecho I wanted to help out and got really excited about the Red Cross," she said. "There is always a possibility of another storm hitting and I want to be involved and help people who need it."
Along with sending volunteers throughout the state and further east, the chapter's Local Disaster Action Team volunteers are prepared to handle all local emergencies such as fires and other issues.
"We have multiple volunteers on standby to respond to local sheltering needs, if needed," Kesselring said.
The chapter is readying standby shelters in each of its nine counties Wood, Wirt, Roane, Ritchie, Gilmer, Calhoun, Pleasants, Jackson and the city and township of Belpre, Ohio.
"Information sharing is critical at this time and continues between all responding agencies," said Kesselring. "We are in communication with all emergency management service directors of each of our nine counties."