Hurricanes Harvey and Irma put Strain on Availability of Local Red Cross Volunteers

DES MOINES, Iowa  --  Following the devastating effects of Hurricane Harvey and now the impending threat of Irma, dozens of Iowans have asked how they can help with relief efforts. Organizers with the Iowa Red Cross says the two major natural disasters are putting pressure on them to churn out trained volunteers.

Throughout the week, the Iowa Red Cross will be hosting volunteer information sessions across the state. Officials say those who undergo training now will not likely be sent to Texas, but if ready they will go to Florida.

“It really puts a lot of pressure on us. It’s going to be really interesting and a challenge for us,” says Iowa Red Cross volunteer Terry Christensen.

According to the Iowa Red Cross, nearly 50 volunteers are currently stationed in Houston. On Tuesday and Wednesday, four volunteers will deploy to Orlando ahead of the expected storm.

Christensen is a volunteer trainer for the nonprofit organization, and anticipates between 50 and 75 volunteers will attend each meeting in Cedar Rapids, Dubuque, Sioux City, and Des Moines. Volunteers must complete a series of online and in-person courses and be 18 years or older. Organizers say they not only need volunteers willing to travel out of state, but those who are willing to stay in-state, too.

“There are a lot of things that need to be done locally," he says. “Just answering the telephones in our offices. With all the people deploying, there are back up needs we have at local fire stations. They don't stop when there is a disaster.”

An volunteer informational meeting will take place on Thursday in Des Moines at the Red Cross building located at 2116 Grand Avenue beginning at 6 p.m.