Red Cross needs volunteers to help flood victims

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - The American Red Cross set up a large display at the Lyman Community Center Wednesday.  The posters showcased the opportunities offered by the organization, along with the need for volunteers.

Since the organization kicked off its recruiting campaign in April, 50 people have signed-up to help out. Jan Murphy is one of them.

"We have been so blessed from Katrina. We were unscathed," Murphy said. "And we were unscathed with the tornadoes that have been so prevalent in so many parts of the country. Looking at the devastation and realizing how much of a need there was for people to help out."

Now, the organization needs at least 40 more volunteers, mainly to help flood victims along the Mississippi River.

"With the floodwaters receding, we're expecting to send another wave of volunteers next week or so to help. As people go back into those communities, they don't know what to expect," said Julie Fife, Client Recovery Coordinator for the Gulf Coast Chapter of the American Red Cross.

The Red Cross is also preparing for this hurricane season and bracing for potential emergencies, like fires. William Frye came to offer his time and talents.

"I haven't had a chance to do a whole lot of volunteering in the past, so the opportunity became available to do it. I'm just looking to get more involved in the community," said Frye.

And the help is needed, not just during a disaster.

"My husband and I teach ballroom and line dancing, and so we're going to also volunteer to teach the military. They get married and a lot of them don't know how to dance," said Murphy.

By the end of the volunteer fair, only two people showed up. But Red Cross leaders weren't discouraged at all.

"The word is out there and we're encouraged by that," said Fife. "They can go to our website to get an application, or they can come in our doors, and we will gladly help them fill one out."

That website is The Red Cross is also offering disaster training courses like shelter operations, CPR, and psychological first aid. The classes are held in Biloxi and Waveland and they are absolutely free.

Copyright 2011 WLOX. All rights reserved.