3:59pm

Wed August 24, 2011
The Commonwealth

Red Cross Sends Volunteers to East Coast

The Bluegrass Chapter of the American Red Cross is preparing for Hurricane Irene. Spokesman Winn Stephens says as the storm moves closer to land, volunteers are mobilizing. "We have our emergency response vehicle and two local volunteers who left at 6 o'clock on Wednesday morning to drive to Columbia, South Carolina. And that is the staging location for all of the Red Cross' emergency response vehicles on the east coast." 

The emergency vehicle can be used to conduct damage assessments, distribute food, and as a communications tool. Stephens says if there's one good thing about hurricanes, it's that you can track their path and prepare ahead of time. Several people from the Louisville Red Cross Chapter are also making the trip. 

"If this thing hits in North Carolina, or South Carolina, or Virginia, they should be able to get into the affected areas within a matter of hours and start providing immediate relief." 

The Red Cross is contacting about 300 other disaster responders in the central Kentucky area to see if they are available to help. 

As of Wednesday, Hurricane Irene had sustained winds of up to 115 miles per hour.