BUFFALO, N.Y. — The American Red Cross from upstate New York has to this point only deployed seven volunteers to Louisiana in the aftermath of Ida. So far, none are specifically from Western New York but some are on standby for the DAT teams as they are known...
Spokesperson Meg Rossman-LeBlanc explains what is involved.
"The Disaster Action team volunteers - those are the men and women who are first on the scene and really assess the damage but also the needs of those impacted directly and providing them with that initial assistance."
More Red Cross volunteers could be called in to help set up and operate shelters or as health care specialists for anyone affected by the storm or that loss of power for an estimated one million homes in the New Orleans area.
There is also demand closer to home with house fires and other smaller-scale weather issues.
"In the last six weeks alone - our Red Cross volunteers across the Western New York region have provided immediate emergency assistance to more than 900 individuals who've been impacted by home fires or flooding that we've seen recently in the Steuben County region."
There are about 2,000 volunteers operating with the local chapters and they're in demand with a recruitment drive underway. Just like everything else COVID did impact some of them. But Rossman-LeBlanc points out "I think in spite of COVID, there have been a great number of people, especially in Western New York community who really wanted to use this time to help and make a difference and be supportive."
While the Red Cross offers that assistance to people, there's also a concern about animals because the owners of pets can be pre-occupied in a disaster zone. So some Western New York agencies are stepping up there as well.
Just as they did with past Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the Ten Lives Club is in Blasdell is using fosters to take in cats brought up from Louisiana after animal rescue clubs down there put out the word.
And Buddy's Second Chance Rescue is jumping in to help foster dogs with the hope of eventual adoption. because shelters had to be cleared out around New Orleans Kimberly Larussa of The Ten Lives Club says " A lot of these animals are in danger of being euthanized to make space for the displaced animals afterward. So all of these animals are at risk right now."
Some of those dogs and cats are expected to be arriving here in Western New York on Monday night.