American Red Cross offering training courses to volunteers

(WAFB) - Louisiana could be facing another natural disaster by early next week, and the American Red Cross is urging citizens to prepare and not panic by offering weekend-long training courses for volunteers.

"We've been through this before, so we know the need and the care that comes from someone helping out," said public affairs director, Nancy Malone.

Malone says ahead of Hurricane Harvey's threat, they've been preparing to jump into action. "We work with our partners. The Red Cross doesn't own buildings, so it's working with our partners to use facilities and set up the essentials like cots, blankets, and supplies that someone might need."

The American Red Cross also has high expectations for their volunteers. Malone says they've been training volunteers for years on how to respond if a disaster strikes and if there's a need for sheltering. "Volunteers constitute about 90 percent of the American Red Cross workforce. They make it possible to respond to the nearly 64,000 disasters every year," said Malone.

"To be able to come in, to be familiar with the Red Cross, to understand what we're asking you to do as a volunteer, and then for you to proactively get out and do that when that time comes," said Malone.

During the 2016 August flood, Malone said the Red Cross sheltered tens of thousands with the help of volunteers. "We also see that volunteer spirit come out when there's consistent need," she said. "There's high intensity of what's going on because we need to be able to help our neighbors, so we want to be there and give our neighbors the opportunity to serve."

Malone says it's combining that local face with a helping hand that uplifts neighbors through a rough time. "We have volunteers from across the country who are ready to support us here, but it's really important that we have neighbors taking care of neighbors. We kind of know the Louisiana way of caring for one another and that's why it's important for us to have our neighbors stand up for one another here," said Malone.

Classes are available at Red Cross offices in:

  • Baton Rouge - 4655 Sherwood Common Blvd.
    • Friday, Aug. 25, 5:30 - 9 p.m.
    • Saturday, Aug. 26, 9 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
  • Lafayette - 215 E. Pinhook
    • Saturday, Aug. 26, 9 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
  • Lake Charles - 3512 Kirkman St.
    • Friday, Aug. 25, 5:30 - 9 p.m.
    • Saturday, Aug. 26, 9 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
  • Madisonville - 300 Ashland Way
    • Saturday, Aug. 26, 9 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

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