In addition to funds and food, Red Cross needs helping hands

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - April's floods and this month's volcanic eruption have kept the American Red Cross of Hawaii on its toes.

"We actually have three ongoing operations for disasters right now," Red Cross CEO Coralie Matayoshi said.

There are 50 Red Cross volunteers helping people on the Big Island, and 50 still working with flood victims on Kauai and Oahu.

The multiple emergencies underscore the relief organization's need for more people to be trained and ready for the next emergency.

"A lot of people want to deploy. If they want to do that they need not only the online training, but they also need real-world experience in Hawaii before they deploy," Matayoshi said.

There are about 2,600 Red Cross volunteers throughout the state. Sounds sufficient but consider that when tropical storm Iselle hit in 2014 the Red Cross opened 32 shelters and mobilized 2,100 volunteers.

That left few people in reserve.

"We really urge people that want to help, we need your help beforehand," Matayoshi said. "It's not only to deploy. We need help with fund raising, office work and logistics."

Red Cross volunteers who work in the field first undergo about 40 hours of online training, and they need to submit to background checks.

"We really need people to understand the Red Cross is on cal 24/7, 365 days a year. And we respond to disasters every four days," Matayoshi said.

For the Big Island emergency volunteers are staffing two shelters.

For the flood events on Kauai and Oahu, Red Cross personnel are continuing with damage assessment and case work.

If you want to sign-up and help in future emergencies go to the Red Cross website at http://www.redcross.org/local/hawaii

"The best thing that we can do is get them in the door right now because hurricane season is two months away," Matayoshi said.

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