80 mobile response units in Richmond ready to help Florence victims

RICHMOND, Va.-- Volunteers at the American Red Cross headquarters in Richmond have been tracking Florence around the clock as the agency prepares to send crews to hard-hit areas.

Dozens of mobile response trucks and tractor-trailers of supplies that have been dispatched to the Carolinas.

"[It's] just crazy -- everybody’s talking at once. The phones are going off like crazy,” said longtime volunteer Mary-Kate Hamilton.

Volunteers from across the country are in the Commonwealth working with National Guard and first responders to develop a plan for mobilization.

“You’ll see a lot of sticky notes and papers on the wall and maps because we’re planning. It’s knowing exactly where the shelter is and where our people are, where our materials are pre-positioned, so that they can take that information put into our system and get them out safely and efficiently as possible,” Red Cross Communications Director Jonathan McNamara said.

Hamilton, who is from Spokane, Washington, will be in the field surveying damage over the next weeks.

“What type of damage the homes had, and then we get a good picture of how much devastation there is," Hamilton explained. "That also allows us decide how much we can help them.”

Volunteers will be utilizing 80 mobile response units and many of them have pre-staged across Virginia and the Carolinas.

“The windows can actually open up and we can serve meals out of the side of them," McNamara pointed out. "They can also at times do medical work like to tetanus shots and mobile health labs where we take blood pressures and blood screens from our nurses who are part of our response."

McNamara said the  trucks are equipped with technology to help volunteers navigate to the areas that are most in need.

"The quicker we can do this, the quicker and more efficient we can get people back to their lives sooner than later,” McNamara said.

Their help goes beyond just handing out supplies, these volunteers are dedicated to providing emotional support to families who may have lost everything in the storm.

“We try to help as much as we can, but we really , really care about you,” Hamilton said.

Many volunteers remained in Richmond to make sure our area was covered, but more crews will be dispatched to the Carolinas once conditions are safe after the brunt of the storm has passed.

If you want to help those who have been impacted by the storm, text “Florence” to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

Click here if you would like to volunteer with the Red Cross.