Local Red Cross Gears Up for Hurricane Rita

By: Sarah Batista
By: Sarah Batista

September 22, 2005

As Hurricane Rita inches closer to land, local Red Cross volunteers are being evacuated from Houston. We spoke to one Red Cross worker via telephone.

Local Red Cross volunteer Lonnie Kirby left for Houston Saturday. His plans are to help with Katrina relief, but on those Wednesday plans changed. A mandatory evacuation took Kirby from Houston to Austin, Texas.

"We were literally on the roads with tens of thousands of people moving on the way of the storm. The first 10 or 15 miles or so took us about two and half hours," Kirby told ABC16/CBS19 via telephone from Austin.

The victims of Hurricane Katrina who landed in Houston have now evacuated to Arkansas. Kirby says the people now in Rita's path learned from Katrina not to take any chances. Everyone, he says, is being extra cautious.

"The media's doing a great job, the government, and the Red Cross is doing a great job as well as other agencies. It really is a collaborative effort in getting information out to the community," said Kirby.

Right now about 120 local Red Cross volunteers are already in the areas hit by Hurricane Katrina, and with Hurricane Rita now looming along the gulf coast, that number could climb even higher.

"We have 20-50 people that are on standby that are ready to be deployed when they're called for," said Hamp Hall of the American Red Cross.

Those volunteers are being trained right now. Many will assist hurricane victims with shelter or feeding needs and with Rita packing a heavy punch, those volunteers could be hitting the road as early as Friday. Their average stay is about two weeks at a time.

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