Stepping up in disaster: American Red Cross

LAUDERDALE, Miss. (WTOK) - Each month we shine the spotlight on those who go above and beyond in our community in our Eleven Who Care series. This month, we're looking at volunteers who are helping those affected by the recent tornado in Lauderdale, as well as many other tragedies around the country.

In the face of tragedy and disaster, there are certain volunteers who are ready to step up to the challenge.

"I've been to Hurricane Sandy, I've been to Moore, Oklahoma, I've been to Hurricane Matthew and a lot of disasters here in the area," Donna Harrison says.

Harrison has been volunteering with the American Red Cross of South Mississippi since 2003. She's seen her fair share of devastation, but it's always tough to take in.

Volunteers with Red Cross are deployed to wherever they're needed most. Tina Spencer made the two-day trek here to Lauderdale from Salt Lake City, Utah. This is her 22nd deployment in the past five years.

"It can be overwhelming," Spencer says. "Especially, if you've never been through it yourself. Trying to imagine what they've gone through or even surviving."

The volunteers start working before the storms even hit, tracking which areas will likely need help. They've been out here trying to help the residents of Green Loop Road, taking damage reports and doing case reports to find out how they can help.

"Whatever needs that they may have, housing, clothing, shelter," Spencer explains.

The volunteers say it's often a tough and heart-breaking process, but seeing those they've helped makes all the work worthwhile.

"It's a really good feeling, and most clients are really appreciative, and it's a really good feeling," Harrison says.

The need is great for Red Cross volunteers right now, and they're encouraging you to sign up and find a way you can help. You can call the American Red Cross in Meridian at (601)485-5151.

If you'd like to nominate someone for Eleven Who Care, you can stop by our station to pick up an application or print one from the link attached to this story.