Wichita Falls Red Cross to help Tenn. tornado victims

Wichita Falls_As federal aid is on its way to storm ravaged states, local volunteers are heading to the disaster zone, too.  The Wichita Falls chapter of the Red Cross is on their way to Tennessee after tornadoes tore through the state leaving many without food or lodging.  The volunteers are bringing food, water and manpower to help those in need.

Wichita Falls Red Cross Disaster Director Sharon Dow oversees efforts to get help to those who need it.  "They contact us and let us know what positions need to be filled, and then we go into our database from what we have here in our local area and find the volunteers that meet the criteria," she says.

They had their Emergency Response Vehicles (ERVs) all packed and ready to go early Thursday.  Red Cross Material Service Support Manager Paul Roberts is responsible for stocking the ERVs with plenty of food and water before they make the trip to Tennessee.  "I used to be a Boy Scout, and the motto is 'be prepared,'" he says.  "It's always good to be prepared to get ready to help these people out, instead of having to wait two to three weeks for us to get out there."

The vehicles are designed to hold provisions for feeding up to 200 people in one shift, and all supplies come from donations.  "What we run off of is donations, volunteer donations that come into the chapter," says Roberts.  Volunteers at the chapter say they donate their time to the Red Cross because they want people to know they have an organization they can depend on in a time of crisis or tragedy.  "If it happened to me, I would feel like somebody, you know, I would want somebody to do the same thing," said one volunteer.

The ERVs left Wichita Falls Friday morning and anticipated reaching their destination by midnight.  If you would like to volunteer or donate any supplies to help the victims in Tennessee, contact your local Red Cross Distribution Center.