Five volunteers from the American Red Cross of Northeast Indiana set out from Fort Wayne to Florida Friday. They were sent there to be available to help provide food and operate shelters if residents of the state's west coast have to run from Tropical Storm Isaac.
Mike Bultemeier and Rosalie Sorg are both trained to drive Red Cross emergency response vehicles. The ERV they're driving to Florida today and Saturday is a large truck filled with equipment they will use to provide hot and cold food and drinks, if necessary. They're headed for Orlando, a staging area from which they could be sent wherever they're needed.
Bultemeier, 65, retired from General Electric a decade ago and started volunteering with the Red Cross soon after he retired. He's been on “at least one” deployment each year, from flood recovery in Minot, N.D., to hurricane relief at Katrina struck New Orleans.
Sorg, 58, is self-employed and has been a volunteer for four years, she said. The Florida journey is her third deployment. “I enjoy volunteering and doing different things,” she said.
She owns and manages rental properties, so that gives her the flexibility to take off a few weeks at a time when she can help in disaster relief. “I work hard when I'm in town, and when something comes up, I can go.” The trip to Florida is her third deployment since she became a volunteer in 2008, she said.
How does the Red Cross decide who to send out “It's all history-related,” said Katherine MacAulay, chief operations officer of the local chapter of Red Cross. “We use our history with other storms to determine what's best for residents and what's safest for the volunteers.”
Also headed to Florida from Fort Wayne are Red Cross volunteers Tamara Stroud, Clayton Martin and Terri Beauchot. They are headed for Tampa, where they would help operate shelters there if needed.
MacAulay said Friday that the five volunteers headed to the Gulf Coast of Florida are among about 350 trained volunteers available in this region. Among them, those volunteers have been trained in 32 specialties, ranging from shelter administration to disaster assessment, she said.