Hawaii Red Cross volunteers head to gulf coast

Hawaii Red Cross volunteers head to gulf coast

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - About a dozen Hawaii Red Cross volunteers are preparing to leave Tuesday night for Houston. They'll be ready to move into Louisiana - once hurricane Isaac has swept through. 40 more Hawaii volunteers are on standby.

Waikele resident Renise Bayne is getting re-certified to drive a Red Cross emergency response vehicle into storm-ravaged areas along the gulf coast. Hurricane Isaac will be her second relief mission.

Bayne says, "Not everybody knows that the Red Cross is out there - so we don't just drive past the disaster area. We actually slow down, get out of the truck, and go door-to-door and knock to see if any of the clients need anything."

Bayne will distribute blankets, water, food, cots, and some medical supplies to folks in need. The mother of six is among Hawaii's first volunteers to go - committed for up to three weeks. She says disaster response and education are her calling. "(I want to) help people understand how important it is to put together, for themselves, their go-kits and their hurricane kits and be prepared," she explains.

Inside the Hawaii headquarters of the Red Cross, they're building a list of all the volunteers on immediate alert. That list continues to grow. Among the names: Charlene Felkley - who got the call at 9:00 a.m. Tuesday that she'd be leaving that night. Isaac is her first Red Cross disaster assignment.

Felkley says, "Just learning about the organization, number one, and then, going into sheltering classes - which is what I'll be doing in New Orleans - is opening in shelters."

Felkley can only venture a guess as to what conditions will be like, but through training, she says staying calm and flexible are crucial.

Like Felkley, most Hawaii volunteers will be assigned to work at emergency shelters - which are already quite busy. Monday night, for instance, nearly 800 people stayed in shelters in five states - with many more likely as the worst of Isaac hits the coast.

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