SURVIVE THE STORM: Volunteering before the disaster hits

Published: Mar. 23, 2017 at 6:33 PM CDT
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Volunteers are always needed after a severe weather disaster, sometimes more than a cash donation.

There are many ways you can help even before the disaster strikes.

"People would be standing there with their homes and standing there with nothing," said Karen McCoy.

McCoy has worked with the American Red Cross in Springfield for five years.

We caught up with McCoy as she was preparing to leave for northern California to help with the flooding and mudslides happening there.

She wears pins from all the various places she's volunteered to help.

McCoy says people can and should volunteer before the storm hits.

"And they do have training, they do a background check on you, they do provide training online and with instructors," McCoy said.

Volunteers are always needed here at the American Red Cross in North Springfield, even before that weather disaster strikes. On the electronic sign outside, the Red Cross is asking for volunteers.

A helping hand is also needed at at Convoy of Hope. Staff at Convoy loads boxes from the warehouse onto a truck and volunteers unload them at the disaster site."

"Typically the way we respond to disasters is not so much to individuals but to communities," said Jeff Nene.

Nene is the National Spokesperson for Convoy of Hope. He tells us every week, they have a volunteer program known as Hands of Hope.

"Right here in our warehouse that come together for about two hours and work on projects that we are undertaking right at that very moment," said Nene.

Nene said they work to coordinate volunteers as far ahead of time as possible.

"So we may contact local churches, local businesses, sometimes local officials will say, 'Here's a group that does a lot of volunteer work, you can work with.' And then we get in touch with them and say 'Hey we're in need of this many volunteers for this period of time,'" Nene added.

McCoy said it's all worth it to see the faces of the people she helps right after a disaster.

"No matter how much you can help them if it's a little difference, a big difference, you're still helping that person...Because we help them through that recovery process to get them back where they were before the disaster even happened. And you get to know them, they're almost like family by the time you leave after two to three weeks. So they might cry, you cry, and they're family," McCoy said.