Iowans Prepare to Aid in Eventual Hurricane Matthew Aftermath

Iowans are gearing up to travel to the Southeastern part of the country to help with the inevitable aftermath of Hurricane Matthew.

Two of those Iowans are Richard and Carolyn Newkirk. The pair of Red Cross mental health volunteers is being re-deployed from Cedar Rapids to the projected impact zone.

“We really feel it’s important at this point in our lives to be able to give back and again, it’s very, very gratifying to be able to do that and help people in their time of need,” said Richard.

The trip to the impact zone will be their fifth deployment since April.

“A lot of it isn’t us talking, seriously, it’s listening and listening to their stories and for a lot of them, their story including losing everything, when you’re done they’re like ‘ahhhh, thank you’” said Carolyn.

The Red Cross is preparing for the worst if Matthew shifts course slightly.

“We just had Louisiana flooding last month which was the largest response we’ve seen since Hurricane Sandy; so if Matthew makes a direct hit on Florida and kinda rides up the coast those could be comparable situations where its long term, a lot of people deployed,” said Chief Development Officer Dan Cataldi.

The Red Cross isn’t the only organization ready to deploy Iowans.  Nationwide Insurance says they have several dozen employees in Iowa who could be sent out to handle thousands upon thousands of claims.

“We actually have a large mobile claims response unit that is equipped with generators and satellites and state of the art equipment that we actually take down to those sites and in the event that technology is not available we actually have a mobile office that our folks can work out of,” said Senior Vice President of Sales Jeff Rommel.

Rommel says with several hundred thousand customers in the path of the hurricane it's all hands on deck.

“Everybody contributes, this is actually the time when we think it’s game time for us, we gotta shine at our best. It’s our time to really live up to the promise that we’ve made to our customers,” he said.

Hurricane Matthew is projected to become a category four hurricane and sweep along the coast, but not make direct landfall.