SPOKANE, Wash --- Local Red Cross volunteers are heading to support the disaster relief operations on the Gulf Coast.
Volunteers were banned from deploying to the Gulf of Mexico earlier this week because of wildfire danger in the Pacific Northwest. Now they are able to deploy to help with the relief effort in Texas and other states in need.
One volunteer left Thursday morning, and four more are leaving within the next 24 hours, said Red Cross Executive Director Megan Snow.
Volunteers went by the Red Cross office at 312 West Nora Avenue Thursday afternoon between two p.m. and four p.m. to complete pre-deployment paperwork.
That is where KREM 2 News met Dr. Tom Kearney. Kearney and other volunteers from the Spokane area will ship out in the next few days to areas hardest hit by Harvey.
"I'm going this time, because I can see how widespread this is and will eventually be as this whole saga unfolds,” said Kearney. “Everybody needs rest, reassurance, food, a safe place to sleep and eat and the moral support of the group around them."
The retired medical doctor said he has been volunteering with the organization since Hurricane Katrina ravaged New Orleans and the surrounding area in 2005.
"Finished 30 years of practice here in Spokane with Group Health and that was just before Katrina, so I had retired, was available,” said Kearney. "It was pretty much a matter of how much can you improvise on the spot to help not just yourself survive, but the people around you that you are there to seek out and help."
Volunteers are deploying primarily to support shelter operations, said Snow.
This is not the only place volunteers are going, three local volunteers were sent to Cle Elum Thursday morning to manage the Red Cross shelter there. It was opened last night due to the Jolly Mountain fire.