Metro Red Cross Volunteers Head South for Isaac

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Two Red Cross volunteers are headed south Sunday, to an area that might be impacted by Tropical Storm Isaac.

It happens fast.

“I got a call at 2 ‘o clock saying, ‘Can you go?'” Merritt Markussen, a volunteer with the Red Cross’ Disaster Service Technology said.

Before he and his fellow volunteer, Phill Evans, know it, they are loading their bags into an SUV and headed for Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  They said they have a critical mission.

“If it gets as bad as it could get, then those folks don’t have any way of communicating with their loved ones and we provide that,” Evans said.

As Isaac brings some rain and gusty winds to parts of the south east states, Markussen and Evans said the emergency response SUV is designed so they can set up an office to communicate to the rest of the country for the first 24 to 36 hours, once the storm passes through some areas.

“We have lap tops, connectivity with a satellite link, we have engine generators so basically we can set up a small office powered off the truck in necessary,” Markussen said.

The truck requires a lot of upkeep, both outside and in.

“As a group we meet once a month down here practice with the truck, make sure it works, we’re always constantly keeping up with the skill and technology needed to run, so we’re ready all the time, basically,” Markussen said.

Even if it’s for a natural disaster Markussen said they haven’t experienced before.

“This is my first, I guess we’ll find out. I think we’re ready,” he said.

The pair’s destination is about 780 miles away.  They said they could be there for several weeks, but there isn’t a time frame.  The men said the only thing for certain, is they will be there to help.

“We feel like it’s worth while,” Evans said.

Red Cross spokesperson Jamie Dierking said about 1,000 volunteers are now in the state of Florida, including some from the metro.  He said more are being deployed to other states, like Markussen and Evans.  He also anticipates more departures this week.

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