Officials: Volunteers make storm emergency management possible

alopez@macon.comFebruary 12, 2014 

WinterWeather

The Salvation Army shelter on Broadway in Macon reached capacity Wednesday afternoon. Others in need of help were transported to a Red Cross shelter at Macon Memorial Gym.

JASON VORHEES — jvorhees@macon.com Buy Photo

Two Macon-Bibb Emergency Management Agency volunteers arrived at the Salvation Army shelter Wednesday afternoon to drive four men to an emergency shelter set up by the Red Cross a few blocks away.

The Salvation Army shelter reached capacity, so the Red Cross opened its emergency facility an hour and a half earlier than planned.

Fifty to 60 people were expected to need room, Donna Lee, Red Cross district program manager, said Wednesday afternoon.

Volunteers Phillip Bailey and Tommy Ethridge greeted the four men from the Salvation Army at the door.

Inside, cots, blankets and food would be available to them.

The two EMA volunteers went back to their truck. They anticipated working six to eight hours, driving people to the shelter and helping fire and sheriff’s officials with traffic and blocking off roads.

Twenty to 30 volunteers make manning the Red Cross emergency shelter possible, Lee said.

At the EMA, 50 to 60 volunteers help coordinate emergency response, said Robert McCord, EMA operations officer.

They take calls, relay information about conditions, help drive people to the Red Cross shelter and work with emergency responders.

“We can always use more,” McCord said.

Inside the Red Cross shelter, Bailey and Ethridge distributed blankets while Lee fielded calls from people wanting to donate food.

She had to turn some away, as the shelter can only take ready-to-serve or individually-wrapped items.

Another volunteer, Robert Thrower, arrived ready to stay overnight until the shelter’s closure at 8:30 a.m. Thursday.

Lee helped Thrower put on his bright-red volunteer vest.

She asked that people consider donating funds to the Red Cross’ Central Georgia chapter at www.redcross.org/ga/macon.

Red Cross volunteers are needed even during nice weather. Often they respond to help families after fires or other disasters, and the Red Cross pays for hotel rooms for the victims, Ethridge said.

“It’s one of the finest humanitarian organizations out there,” he said.

The Red Cross will need to continue receiving monetary donations and new volunteers.

“Get in touch with us, so we can put you to work,” Lee said.

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