ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Volunteers from the Rockford Red Cross are on their way to Louisiana to help that region recover from the impact of Hurricane Ida, which made landfall this weekend.
Jackie Speciale and another volunteer will be driving a Red Cross Emergency Response Vehicle to help mobilize supplies, such as ready-to-eat meals, water, snacks and clean up kits.
“I’m not exactly sure what I’m going to see, but what I’m going to do is go with a big open heart, and caring and concern, and be there for folks as needed,” she said before leaving Rockford on Monday.
“We’re all neighbors, so I’m going down to help my neighbors,” she said. Speciale said the assignment is nothing new to her, having worked with the Red Cross for over a decade.
“Once you start to see what opportunities there are, you start to feel where you fit in to a family you never knew you had,” she said.
Over a dozen volunteers from Illinois will help with the relief efforts.
Leslie Luther, executive director of the American Red Cross’ Northwest Illinois Chapter, said, “We have a lot of individuals in the state, and the surrounding areas, that are trained very well in what we call ‘mass care services,’ and that’s really the initial part, where we set up shelters to be received. We have a big team here, so we get called a lot.”
Luther added that the crew will be bringing toys to give to families in the storm’s aftermath.
“We give those out a lot on disasters, to children that have been uprooted from their homes, the lives that they’ve known, and you’d be surprised. That small little stuffed animal, the smile that it gives a child, or the ease that it gives them, just as we’re trying to figure out what their next steps are going to be,” Luther added.
Ida was downgraded to a tropical storm Monday morning as it pushes inland into Mississippi and Alabama.
Over the weekend, it blew the roofs off buildings, knocked down trees and snapped utility poles with 150 mph winds, the fifth strongest storm ever to hit the US mainland.
At least one person has been confirmed killed, and hundreds of thousands of homes are without power.
Visit redcross.org, call 800-RED-CROSS, or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.