SOUTH BEND - The Red Cross is already seeing a jump in interest among new volunteers, eager to join disaster response teams, in the wake of Superstorm Sandy.
The St. Joseph County chapter quickly organized “boot camp” classes to teach people about the non-profit and how they can join.
A couple dozen people gathered for a session, Thursday, at Red Cross headquarters in South Bend.
“It’s clear the need is there and they’re very excited to help,” said Rebekah DeLine, director of the St. Joseph County chapter of the American Red Cross.
Disasters, like Sandy, which play out over several days on TV and online, raise awareness of the need for volunteers, and so the Red Cross decided this would be an ideal time to recruit new help, DeLine said.
The “boot camps” are introductory courses that provide base-level training, such as how to assemble an emergency shelter, and how to properly distribute food and water.
Some of the people who showed up for class, Thursday, might be chosen to provide assistance in New York and New Jersey, where storm relief efforts could take weeks or months.
“It really depends on the need that occurs on the East Coast,” said DeLine, “If we have volunteers trained in the appropriate areas, we can then submit their names for deployment. We expect this to be a long disaster response.”
According to DeLine, there are now 12 St. Joseph County Red Cross volunteers working on Sandy relief. An additional 11 have deployed from, Elkhart County, 5 from Kosciusko County, and 1 from LaGrange County, she said.
The next class will be held on Saturday at 9 am until 4 pm at the St. Joseph County Red Cross located at 3220 E. Jefferson Blvd. in South Bend.