Wednesday, 29 May 2024

REGIONAL: Red Cross activates Bay Area-wide response to tropical storm

Red Cross volunteers Al Phillips of Petaluma and Ken Reynoldson of Gualala prepare to deploy to a pre-staging area in San Antonio, Texas, in advance of Hurricane Gustav. The trained volunteers will join hundreds of others who are getting ready to help those in needs after the hurricane hits. Photo by Ellen Maremont Silver/American Red Cross, Sonoma and Mendocino Counties.


SANTA ROSA – American Red Cross chapters in the greater Bay Area have activated disaster response teams and Emergency Response Vehicles to assist with preparations for Tropical Storm Gustav.

The storm is poised to enter the Gulf of Mexico as a hurricane this weekend, and early next week could affect Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.

Approximately 40 volunteers and three Emergency Response Vehicles are being deployed from the greater Bay Area through the weekend.

Volunteers from Sonoma-Mendocino Chapters, the Bay Area, Palo Alto area and Santa Clara Valley are en route to Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas, where the Red Cross is staging personnel and hundreds of mobile feeding trucks along with supplies before landfall to assist with any necessary relief efforts in the threatened areas. The Red Cross is preparing to assist residents in the storm’s path with shelters, food and emotional support.

The volunteers will be serving by providing evacuated residents with a safe place to stay, food and counseling services both before and after the storm makes landfall.

Alan Phillips of Petaluma and Kenneth Reynoldson of Gualala were the first two local, trained Red Cross volunteers to deploy to San Antonio, in the southern part of the state. That’s the staging area for the Red Cross, where hundreds of volunteers from around the country will prepare in advance of the potential disaster.

Phillips and Reynoldson don’t know yet where their work will take them, since it depends on where the storm does the most damage and who needs Red Cross assistance. Both will be working on the job for three weeks, the standard length for Red Cross disaster deployments. The two men have both served on numerous national Red Cross assignments.

The volunteers know they will be facing what the Red Cross terms a “hardship assignment.” That can take many forms; in this case, they can expect high heat and humidity, power outages, sleeping in shelters and food shortages that may make their work more difficult.

Should evacuations occur, Red Cross volunteers will be working with residents in affected areas to register on the Red Cross Safe and Well Web site at

Bay Area and North Coast residents who are concerned about family members and friends in the affected area can search for information by entering the telephone number and address of their loved ones on the Web site.

The Web site also is equipped to receive donations from those who want to offer monetary support to the Red Cross, which provides its disaster assistance free of charge.


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