Lehigh Valley

Red Cross holds disaster response training

Volunteers prepare for emergencies

ALLENTOWN, Pa. - As Florence dumps more than 30 inches of rain in North Carolina and the surrounding areas, it's all hands on deck for the American Red Cross.

"We have a critical need right now to expand our workforce," said Peter Brown, Executive Director of the American Red Cross Lehigh Valley-Bucks Chapter. 

The Red Cross held an all-day training on Saturday to prepare volunteers interested in responding to local emergencies or potentially deploying to one of the cities hit by Florence.

"We're making sure we're ready for things like the recent flooding we just had here in Pennsylvania in July and August but we're also anticipating additional need for volunteers to go down to the Carolinas to help with the response to Hurricane Florence," Brown said. 

One of the volunteers heading to the Carolinas is Lori Ayers who also led some of Saturday's training.

"I'm hopeful to be able to provide support to the families that are affected by this," said Red Cross Disaster Mental Health Leader Lori Ayers. 

Ayers is expecting to deploy on Monday to help communities cope with the aftermath of Florence. 

"People are really affected by losing their possessions, losing other people maybe and just the devastation of life changing like that," said Ayers. 

As Ayers and dozens of other local volunteers are sent south, the Red Cross is also preparing for another round of flooding in the Lehigh Valley.

"We're starting to align resources and these new trainees will help us," Brown said. 

From coast to coast, no matter the location, Red Cross volunteers say when disaster strikes the true beauty of the human spirit emerges.

"I really am always just moved by the resilience in people," Ayers said. 

"It's a very heart warming thing to see how communities come together when things are at their worst, I think often we find people are at their best," Brown said.

Red Cross officials said the organization will hold another training session in the near future. People interested in becoming a volunteer can get more information by visiting the Red Cross volunteer page.

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