Volunteer opportunities abound for truckers in hurricane areas

| 7/12/2005

Five people in the United States and 28 worldwide have been killed by hurricane Dennis.

Dennis was downgraded to a tropical storm, but not before slamming into parts of Florida, Alabama and Mississippi with 120-mile-an-hour winds that ripped roofs off of houses and downed power lines. Half a million homes were left without power, and damage is estimated in the billions. Parts of all three states have been declared disaster areas.

In the wake of the storm, truckers can play an important role in the relief effort by providing donated time, labor and, of course, transportation for supplies and rebuilding in crisis areas, said Patricia Kraemer, disaster and emergency services director for the Mississippi Gulf Coast chapter of the American Red Cross.

“We always need trucks to pick up supplies and take them to shelters and such,” Kraemer said. “We are always in need of transportation of supplies and free labor.”

Kraemer said it is important to contact the Red Cross as soon as you decide to become involved with the relief effort.

“People contact us to volunteer,” Kraemer. “We go from there, letting them know what our needs are, what their availability is and what they have to offer that could assist us.”

Although truckers’ help is always appreciated, Devorah Goldburg, spokesperson for the American Red Cross, said some chapters of the organization might feel that an overwhelming volunteer response from truckers could complicate the logistical problems in a disaster area.

Goldburg said truckers who want to become involved with the relief effort should contact the American Red Cross headquarters or get in touch with a Red Cross chapter in the disaster area. If load-hauling assistance is not needed or wanted, she recommended donating blood, money or taking part in one of the Red Cross’s other disaster volunteer programs.

For more information on volunteering with the American Red Cross or any of its local chapters located in areas of tropical storm activity, please contact:

– By Aaron Ladage, staff writer