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‘If it turns, we’re ready’: Georgia American Red Cross prepped for Florence

Red Cross staging emergency response vehicles in Macon to head for Hurricane Florence

American Red Cross Georgia Region director Connie Hensler says staging emergency response vehicles in Macon has the organization ready to roll in the wake of Hurricane Florence.
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American Red Cross Georgia Region director Connie Hensler says staging emergency response vehicles in Macon has the organization ready to roll in the wake of Hurricane Florence.

On a trip to Georgia, more than 1,200 miles from home, two men took turns at the wheel of a vehicle that looks similar to an ambulance or a food truck.

Roger Koch and his buddy, Jeff Anderson, left Sioux Falls, South Dakota, with the intention of staying down south for about two weeks to volunteer for the American Red Cross, which set up its Georgia staging area in Macon ahead of Hurricane Florence.

The truck they arrived in is called an emergency response vehicle, and it can transport 400-500 meals or haul disaster supplies in bulk.

Though the hurricane had weakened to a tropical storm by Friday evening, the storm is far from over. Life-threatening conditions including flooding, downed trees and power outages continued to mar the Carolinas as the storm continued along an uncertain path.

Koch, who retired 1 1/2 years ago from his architectural antique retail store, refused to watch the natural disaster play out on a screen.

“It’s hard for me to sit down and watch TV,” Koch said, standing at the rear of the emergency response vehicle he and Anderson arrived in.

We are here to “do some good for the world. ... We’re helping people that are really in need.”

On Saturday, more than 30 other emergency response vehicles from around the country will roll in at the Macon State Farmers Market on Eisenhower Parkway.

The drivers will join the more than 150 volunteers already stationed there, said Bob Sheldon, assistant director for operations for Georgia Red Cross.

“We’ve spent the last week prepping for the storm,” he said. “Now, we’re just waiting for landfall to come to us. If it turns, we’re ready.”

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