Red Cross faces challenges ahead of 2011 Hurricane Season

JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Already taxed with tornado and flood response in Mississippi, the American Red Cross is now facing a money and manpower squeeze just as hurricane season begins.

To get ready for what's ahead, Director Paige Roberts and her Red Cross staff in Jackson County are double checking everything from the disaster supplies to the volunteer list.

There are about 100 volunteers on call in George and Jackson Counties, but staffers said typically only half are available when it is time to work.

"We need people to be ready because we have people go into shelters and they have specific needs. We have to feed people, often, and do client case work on them."

Roberts said the demand from disasters this Spring, along with the tight economy, has some donations drying up.

"It is a tough business, non-profit fundraising right now. Not just for the Red Cross, but for everyone."

The Red Cross said manpower and money are always important issues when disaster strikes.

"It is all about resources. Do we have the material resources that we need? I encourage people, get trained now, so that the moment that the disaster happens, we are not spending valuable time training you then. We are able to put you on the ground and get you active right away."

Despite the challenges, Roberts said people can count on the Red Cross to be there in any storm or catastrophe.

"The people who are in need come first, and we respond, and we come up with the money sometimes later."

The Red Cross is also encouraging everyone to prepare an emergency supply kit this hurricane season. The kit should have a flash light and batteries, as well as hygiene and medical items. People should also consider all immediate family members when adding supplies to the kit.

Officials said make sure you have copies of personal documents, as well, like birth certificates and the deed or lease to your home.

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