SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Hurricane Ida delivered its hardest hit to Louisiana.
As the massive emergency response is now underway to help survivors, four Red Cross volunteers from Missouri made their way to Louisiana today from Springfield.
We’re going in with an expectation that we will be the primary source of feeding for maybe several weeks, says John Mathews, a Red Cross volunteer from Mexico, Missouri.
Matthews says that he and his crew will be packing up meals and delivering them to those stranded amid the destruction.
“The need is fantastic. There’s no electricity, no good water. Water is everywhere, but not the kind that you want to drink,” says Matthews.
The group will first split up. Matthews and his partner will travel straight to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, while the others will stop first in Houston, Texas to organize.
This is Matthews’s third deployment in 2021 and second this month.
Having been a Red Cross volunteer for nearly 40 years, we asked what compels him to help.
“The simple answer is I do this because I can. We have a lot of people trained, but they aren’t always available, or they’re not willing to go when the opportunity comes,” says Matthews.
“My problems come at the end of deployment when I’ve seen two weeks of people in such great need and want to stay longer, but know I can’t.”
Also heading south is Darlene Brennen from Polk County. She says she was looking for somewhere to volunteer her time. She chose the Red Cross two years ago.
“When I was done raising my family, and I’m semi-retired with my cattle, I felt it was time to give back and volunteer,” says Brennen. “People have helped me, and now I’m ready to help them.”
This trip will be Brennen’s first time deploying to an area where homes are now unrecognizable to their owners.
“We had a tornado, and we had people help us with that. My neighbor, he had a fire, and the Red Cross had come out to help him,” says Brennen. “That was another reason that I wanted to, you know, I thought it was a good organization to get involved with.”
Local utility crews from Nixa and Lebanon will also be in Louisiana the next several days making repairs to downed power lines.