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Seven disaster volunteers from the local Granite Chapter of the American Red Cross have been sent to the Gulf Coast states. They join 22 other disaster volunteers from NH Red Cross chapters who are participating in the nationwide Red Cross response to assist the thousands of people displaced by Tropical Depression GustavRead more...


In preparation for her assignment in Hattiesburg, MS, volunteer Michelle Koski (left) is given Red Cross disaster information from Kay Mahoney, Deputy Director for Emergency Services at the Granite Chapter.   Marie Ott completes paperwork at the Granite Chapter for her assignment to Hattiesburg, MS.


Volunteers, Dotti and David Penny (in Red Cross vests), go over supplies in comfort
kits with Maria White, the chapter´┐Żs Chief Operating Officer. The comfort kits will be
distributed to people in the Gulf Coast area who have been displaced by recent hurricanes.

Peter Fortier from Contoocook left last week for Alexandria, Virginia, to join the procurement team in support of the storm relief. Denise Smith, a long-time resident of the Goffstown area now living in Arkansas, is being sent by the chapter to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where she will work on services to support other Red Cross volunteers and staff.

 Maria Ott of Bow and Michelle Koski of Manchester headed to Hattiesburg, Mississippi, where they will work on emergency shelter needs. Also in Hattiesburg are Helen Champa from Contoocook, a supervisor for casework, and Dotti and David Penny from Hillsborough, who are working on the mobile feeding vehicle and helping with casework. The Pennys summer in Prince Edward Island and drove 12 hours last week to get to the Granite Chapter for their assignment information. David Hughes of Center Harbor left for Orlando FL in anticipation of Hurricane Ike; he is assigned to health services.

Disaster volunteers are trained by the Granite Chapter to assist disaster victims with a variety of physical and emotional needs, even under the rugged conditions that usually follow a disaster. These four disaster volunteers will be living and working under hardship conditions. They will be sleeping on cots in community shelters similar to the shelters provided to disaster victims. Supplies of water, electricity and food will be limited and at times unavailable. Their work and travel will be hampered by difficult conditions such as debris in the middle of roads making some impassable.

Although the storm was downgraded from hurricane status, the American Red Cross continues to provide shelter, food and emotional support to those displaced by Gustav and the families returning to the area only to find their homes unlivable.

This is the largest Red Cross relief effort since Hurricane Katrina in 2005. On both the first and second nights of the Gustav evacuation, the Red Cross sheltered more people than during that same time period following Katrina, indicating that people heeded the warnings, took evacuations seriously and conducted the evacuations in an orderly fashion.

The Red Cross has workers, cots, blankets, comfort kits, ready-to-eat meals and more than 200 mobile feeding trucks in the area. There are enough shelter supplies for 500,000 shelter residents for a six-day period.

Support so far for the people of the Gulf Coast area has already cost the Red Cross about $20 million with more storms heading toward the United States. Tropical Storm Hanna poses a threat to the East Coast. Tropical Storm Ike is expected to get stronger. The American Red Cross has staged resources along the East Coast to help residents in the path of other hurricanes.
All American Red Cross disaster assistance is free to those needing it, made possible by voluntary donations of time and money from the American people. To help victims of disasters like Tropical Depression Gustav, you can make a financial gift to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund, which enables the Red Cross to provide shelter, food, counseling and other assistance to disaster victims. The American Red Cross honors donor intent. If you wish to designate your donation to a specific disaster please do so at the time of your donation. Contributions to the Disaster Relief Fund may be sent to the American Red Cross, P. O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013. Internet users can make a secure online contribution by visiting

The local Granite Chapter of the Red Cross, based in Concord, responds to disasters and provides emergency preparedness training for NH residents in the Concord area, Lakes Region and North Country. For any questions or further information about becoming a disaster volunteer, contact the chapter at 1-800-464-6692.


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