Minnesota Red Cross volunteers prepare for Hurricane Michael relief

- As Hurricane Michael barrels toward Florida and Georgia, Candy Bohjanem-Hammity is heading toward the danger zone.

“We’re there to help them,” said Bohjanem-Hammity.

She is one of eight Minnesota Red Cross volunteers being deployed. In her more than five years of service, this will be her first hurricane.

“I’m going to be going out for sheltering,” she said.

Michael is the second major storm to strike the southeast in the past few weeks. In the Carolinas, more than 2,000 responders are still grappling with the aftermath of Hurricane Florence. Of the 90 Minnesota volunteers sent there in September, 30 remain.

“And we’re still continuing to send volunteers to the Carolinas,” said Carrie Carlson-Guest of the Red Cross.

There are fears that the Carolinas could be hit again.

“We don’t know how bad Michael is going to be, but we know that we are deploying a number of resources in addition to the ones that we have there to help the people who are affected,” said Carlson-Guest.

Predicted to make landfall Wednesday, Michael is expected to unleash strong winds, heavy rains and devastating flooding. Officials in Florida, Georgia and Alabama have declared states of emergency. Tens of thousands of people have been ordered to evacuate.

“We are continuing to work with the teams that are on the ground to determine what are the needs,” said Carlson-Guest. “Right up from it’s that piece of making sure that people have a safe place to stay, they have food and the resources that they need.”

An accountant by trade, Bohjanem-Hammity, a semi-retired Alexandria, Minn. native, will be on the ground for two weeks. During times of chaos, she hopes to be a source of comfort.  

“Just the satisfaction that you’re helping people,” said Bohjanem-Hammity. “That they can lean on you and you can give them support.”

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