Dozens of Virginia Red Cross volunteers are responding to Hurricane Jan.

HENRICA CANTI, Va. (WRIC) — The American Red Cross is expected to send dozens of volunteers from Virginia to Florida to help with Hurricane Jan relief efforts.

According to the nonprofit humanitarian organization, there are currently 300 Red Cross volunteers on the ground, six of whom are from the Virginia area. Dozens more volunteers from Virginia, including the Richmond area, are on standby to respond when the area is safe.

Deborah “Debbie” Watson has been a Red Cross volunteer for six years and is flying to Florida this weekend. Recently, she has been sent to disasters all over the country. She will now assist other employees in Florida.

“I was just in Kentucky. I worked directly one-on-one with clients who had just come through devastating floods“, Watson said. “I was just in California with a fire, so something about that has to be in my blood. I want to be able to go and help somebody. To be the first person to look at somebody and say, someone is here for you and you won’t be alone.’

Jonathan McNamara, regional director of communications for the American Red Cross, told 8News that relief supplies are already in place. Volunteers provide essential services in the storm’s path, such as medical supplies and hot meals.

“You’re dealing with a very dangerous situation and that’s why the evacuation notices that have been sent out are very important to get these families into our emergency evacuation shelters so they can have a safe place to go,” McNamara said. “These are the types of services that we know will be critical in these areas.”

Two-man teams will travel from Virginia in emergency response vehicles. All Red Cross vehicles are expected to be sent to the state. The vehicles are capable of serving up to 1,000 meals at a time and are loaded with cleaning kits and debris removal materials such as rakes and shovels.

Volunteers are willing to work for up to three weeks and can be deployed to Florida weeks or even months after the storm. According to McNamara, immediately after Jan, volunteers will provide hot meals, cleaning kits and medication replacements. In the following weeks, volunteers will work with each individual family to determine their specific needs.

“Most likely, we will be sheltering tens of thousands of people who have fled their homes, and then, days and weeks later, our role will change,” McNamara said.

To help here at home, residents can sign up to volunteer, donate to the Red Cross or donate blood. McNamara said hundreds of blood drives will be canceled in Florida, so blood donations will not only support Virginia hospitals, but also allow the Red Cross and other blood organizations to make sure hospitals in the storm’s path have the resources they need. The Red Cross can move blood around the health care system.

Click here make an appointment to donate blood.

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