HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - By Marc Arakaki
Hawai`i Red Cross volunteers will share their aloha to those affected by the Arizona wildfires.
19 members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots were killed battling the blaze that left many without basic necessities.
Three Hawai`i Red Cross nurses left yesterday for Arizona and seven additional volunteers will be leaving this week - from Maui, O`ahu and the Big Island.
"Not only do we want to give our aloha and reach out to these poor people that are suffering so tremendously but when they come back, they're going to have experience in order to help Hawai`i be stronger for when we get hit by a disaster," American Red Cross Hawai`i State Chapter CEO Coralie Matayoshi said.
WHAT WILL THEY DO?
Matayoshi said the first three nurses will focus on helping people who needed to evacuate from their homes with prescriptions and other necessities. Four from the neighbor islands will be leaving today and focus on client work and mass care shelters. Then two more will be leaving tomorrow and will focus on logistics, providing aid with emergency vehicles.
One of those helping out with logistics is Christina Bell who previously went on seven other relief missions. This is her first time helping out with the logistics crew but she reminisced about her time helping people in previous experiences.
"All they want sometimes is an ear that listens," Bell said. "When they tell you their life story and you sit there and listen - then you give them a hug and that makes them feel better already.
"[In logistics] we are going to restock the shelters and the American Response vehicles so everybody when they have to leave in the morning, their vehicle will be ready and loaded with stuff they need to hand out to people."
WHY THEY DO IT?
Volunteers help out for various reasons. For Bell, it comes from a close tie to the islands.
"It's a calling. I have to," Bell said. "When I came to the islands, I was married. My husband passed away two years after I got here and I said, 'I don't want to leave this island. This island has given me so much already in two years and I want to give back to the island.'
"In 2008, when Hurricane Ike was hitting, I came from Germany - my mom turned 80 and she met my boyfriend and she approved. As soon as I got home, we couldn't even unpack. We were still jetlagged and we went out to [Texas]."
But as tired as she was - Bell kept pushing.
"Sometimes when you get so tired and on your way home you say, 'I guess that was the last one that I went to. I'm so tired.' And then soon as you get the call, we looked at each other and we say, 'let's go,'" Bell said.
Bell explained that this will be the first trip for her to experience a fire-related disaster.
"This one is going to be a big major one because we are going to learn a whole different kind of relief because we never been to a fire yet," Bell said. "I hope we never have to apply it to the islands but if it comes to that then we know how to handle it better."
Matayoshi insisted that Hawai`i is unique because each island needs to have effective personnel in case of an emergency.
"When we get hit, each island needs to stand on their own," Matayoshi said. "We need that management and supervisory experience because when it happens, they might be on the island all by themselves leading a big effort."
HOW TO HELP?
The American Red Cross Hawai`i State Chapter is actively recruiting volunteers. For more information, call the office at 808-734-2101 or visit their website at http://www.redcross.org/hi/honolulu.
"All the people that deploy already have an enormous amount of training and they also have real on the ground experience in Hawai`i," Matayoshi said.