SIDNEY — The American Red Cross remains on the ground, with volunteers across nearly half of Louisiana, helping thousands who lost everything in recent devastating floods—the worst natural disaster since Superstorm Sandy in 2012. To further aid community needs, the relief organization is building a new volunteer contingent to deploy “virtually” (read: working from home) to support the efforts currently underway thousands of miles away in the ravaged flood zone.
“The situation in Louisiana remains critical and so does our need to adapt by recruiting a new type of volunteer – virtual volunteers,” says Lynne Gump, executive director of the Northern Miami Valley Ohio Chapter of the American Red Cross. “I’m urging everyone to please consider becoming a new virtual volunteer. People desperately need help right now. By working from the comfort of your own home, you can make a real difference for people in Louisiana who have lost theirs.”
The organization seeks to add an additional 250 virtual volunteers as soon as possible. Opportunities include virtual caseworker and call center positions. More than 17,000 calls from people seeking information and help have already been handled.
As waters go down, the Red Cross is able to get into more and more neighborhoods, and volunteers on scene are working tirelessly to provide assistance. Nearly 90 response vehicles are fanning out through affected neighborhoods to distribute food, water and relief supplies such as personal hygiene items, insect repellant, cleaning kits and bleach. Local officials estimate more than 110,000 homes have been damaged.
To date, more than 1,900 Red Crossers from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico are supporting Louisiana relief efforts. Since the onset of the flooding, the Red Cross and partners have served more than 260,000 meals and snacks, in addition to distributing nearly 60,000 relief items. Mental health disaster workers are visiting shelters to offer comfort. Health services volunteers are helping with things like lost eyeglasses and medications.
To become a virtual volunteer, individuals simply visit redcross.org and submit an application. The safety of the people the Red Cross serves and the volunteers who help them is of utmost importance to the Red Cross. We have procedures in place to track who is volunteering to help keep people safe. This includes running a background check on all volunteers who will work directly with the people who turn to the Red Cross for help or have access to funds. Volunteers also sign an agreement to abide by its code of ethics and conduct.