Minnesotans head east with Red Cross to clean up after Hurricane Matthew

- It’s been a couple of weeks since Hurricane Matthew slammed into Florida and the Carolinas, and as of now there is still at need for volunteers to help with disaster relief.

More than 43 Minnesotans have already stepped up to volunteer with the American Red Cross on the East Coast and more are on the way.

The volunteers will be delivering cleanup kits, which include bleach and mops, rakes, gloves and trash bags. Volunteers are also still delivering food to the affected areas.

“That is part of our mission, doing mass care is feeding and sheltering,” Mark Doble, a Red Cross volunteer, said. “There are still shelters open in North Carolina.” 

In addition to clean up, crews will also help link victims with the proper resources. But, what is not lost in the devastation is the incredible emotional toll.  That is why the Red Cross is training its volunteers in "psychological first aid."

“Psychological first aid is how to help people cope in times of stress,” Vonnie Thomas, a Red Cross volunteer, said. “We give them coping strategies and how to recognize what stress is all about, and how to fix them as far as their feelings, their thoughts [and] their behavior.”

Generally, the deployment lasts about two weeks and the Red Cross says it still needs volunteer. There is another training session coming up In Minnesota. Thomas has volunteered with the Red Cross for 65 years and says she has loved every minute of it.

“The rewards are numerous,” Thomas says. “You walk in with your vest and you immediately get a hug.

Blood drives all up and down the East Coast had to be cancelled due to the hurricane. So if you cannot volunteer much time, the Red Cross says you can still help by donating blood or platelets – there is a great need right now and it is easy to do.

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