Minnesota Red Cross volunteers assisting after tornado damage across plains

More than a week of severe weather, including deadly tornadoes and flooding, has battered parts of the central and southern plains in the United States.

The Minnesota Red Cross is now sending volunteers to help with relief efforts.

“We’ve been sending people out in the last week,” said Jason Bengston of the Red Cross.

The Minnesota chapter has so far deployed 16 volunteers to some of the hardest hit areas in Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri and Arkansas. They join more than 600 trained disaster workers from across the country.

“Seeing this flooding and then the tornadoes on top of it, back to back across so many states, I have not seen it in my seven years with the Red Cross,” said Bengston.

Crews are setting up emergency shelters, delivering meals, and emergency supplies. Volunteers are also assessing the damage.

“One of the things as the Red Cross that we take pride in is that we’re there for someone,” said Bengston. “Giving them an item, a meal anything, is one thing - but just having someone there to say we’re with you, you’re not alone, that means so much.”

The Minnesota chapter of the Red Cross says that it's likely more volunteers will be deployed with the threat of more severe weather looming.

“The threat is still there, we’re still seeing a threat for storms across the southern plains, through into the weekend,” said Bengston. “We’re hoping it dies down soon, but this still is a high threat time for tornadoes and flooding. So, it can always happen, we always have to be prepared and have to be ready.”

Volunteers typically work two weeks before returning home. In addition to monetary donations, the Red Cross also encourages people to give blood.