The Boone County chapter of the American Red Cross is training more than 120 new volunteers to help with disaster relief, Executive Director Jutta Hopkins said.
The local chapter is providing shelter to those who need a place to stay and vouchers that can be redeemed for food, clothing, medication and eyeglasses, Hopkins said.
The shelter is currently housing 20 to 25 refugees, and more are on the way. Evacuee Eula Hickman, a native of New Orleans, is expecting to see 30 to 40 family members arrive today at Calvary Baptist Church. Hickman’s older sister, a Columbia resident, and her niece rented two vans to pick up their relatives from New Orleans, and were on their way back Sunday night.
The Red Cross held two training sessions Saturday and had already put 10 volunteers to work Saturday afternoon, Hopkins said.
Training continued Sunday, and Hopkins said they would be able to use more of the volunteers in the shelter and service center Sunday night.
Hopkins said that the Red Cross has enough manpower to meet its current needs, but she can’t say what future needs will be.
In the meantime, she said, the Red Cross is building a strong base of volunteers.
Some local volunteers have expressed a desire to head south to the areas most affected by Hurricane Katrina. Hopkins said this requires a three-week commitment and volunteers who are in good physical condition. Volunteer deployment is handled by the Red Cross’ national office, and Boone County has not yet received any orders to deploy workers, she said.
Missourian staff writer Salem Kidane contributed to this report.