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South Florida Red Cross volunteers ramping up relief efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Laura

'I want South Florida to watch the weather'
Posted at 6:47 PM, Aug 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-28 18:55:15-04

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — A group of Red Cross volunteers is ramping up relief efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Laura.

This weekend, they will begin assisting families with food and household supplies the recovery process gets underway.

“The Lake Charles community is one of the hardest-hit communities in the state,” said Charles Parker, the South Florida regional disaster officer for the American Red Cross. “This is as bad of damage as I’ve seen comparing it to Michael.”

Parker was part of the Red Cross response effort in Panama City after Hurricane Michael made landfall in Florida’s Panhandle two years ago.

He has become familiar with disaster recovery after working with the South Florida Red Cross for nearly 10 years.

Parker and his team will spend at least two weeks in Louisiana to assist those who were affected by Hurricane Laura.

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“There’s no power down there, no traffic lights, and about 90 percent of the homes have roof damage,” Parker said.

Volunteers spent most of Friday at a warehouse in Baton Rouge loading boxes of food to distribute to the community.

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Most of their work will take place about two hours west of Baton Rouge where Lake Charles is located.

“Communication is pretty much cut off down there,” said Parker. “There’s no internet service, no cell service.”

The American Red Cross has more than 400 workers from across the country assisting with the disaster relief effort.

“I love to give back,” said Gaenor Speed, a volunteer for the South Florida Red Cross. “It is like a family. It makes the entire U.S. a ‘Red Cross family’ because you see so many people again and again.”

Speed has been volunteering with the South Florida Red Cross for about six years and has deployed to locations around the country and beyond.

One of her most memorable experiences as a volunteer was during her stay in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria.

The South Florida Red Cross will send another wave of volunteers to Louisiana in the coming weeks.

However, more donations and volunteers are needed, especially since more storms could form in the coming weeks.

“I want South Florida to watch the weather,” said Parker. “We’re planning for additional storms and we need all the help we can get.”

Hurricane season ends November 30.