Baton Rouge Red Cross volunteers head to South Carolina floods

Baton Rouge Red Cross volunteers head to South Carolina floods
Baton Rouge Red Cross (Source: WAFB)
Baton Rouge Red Cross (Source: WAFB)

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Fifteen volunteers from the Baton Rouge Red Cross are en route to South Carolina to help victims of the historic flooding.

They join hundreds of other volunteers, who have already set up dozens of shelters in the Carolinas. Those volunteers will distribute food, supplies, and medications.

They will also give out cleaning materials for after the storm has subsided.

"The American Red Cross is not just an organization. We're human beings who are going to touch you, we're going to talk to you, we're going to listen to what you have to say," said Mimi Sanchez, a Red Cross volunteer.

Since the storm began, at least nine people have lost their lives. Thousands are without water and electricity. Hundreds of roads and bridges are cut off. South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley described the storm as "a 1,000-year level of rain."

"It's kind of heartbreaking to see them go through it," said volunteer Gwendolyn Hilliard. "But that's what we're there for, to make everything a little bit easier for them."

Hilliard has volunteered with the Red Cross for several years. One of her first trips was back in 2005.

"Katrina was the bomb that was it," she said. "That was the straw that broke the camel's back."

Since then, she's been to countless disaster zones, including areas impacted by tornadoes in Oklahoma.

"Depending on the locations, the disaster is different, but sometimes the anxiety that they have is pretty much the same," Hilliard said.

"Having volunteers for the Red Cross is like a part of your heart is leaving and going somewhere else," said Merri Alessi, the Executive Director of the Capital Area Red Cross.

She said volunteers from Louisiana are uniquely qualified to handle this sort of project.

"We have experienced the kinds of disasters they're experiencing right now in South Carolina, between floods, Katrina, and other hurricanes," she said.

And while they will be distributing food, supplies and more, the volunteers said the most important thing they can share is love.

"If you've lost everything, all you need is a hug sometimes," Hilliard said. "That hug can bring the biggest smile, because that's a little bit of relief."

Click here for more information about donating to the Red Cross.

Click here to learn how to volunteer or call the Red Cross of Baton Rouge at (225) 291-4533.

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