Training Day Held For Disaster Relief Volunteers

This is the image you may remember hours after Hurricane Katrina hit South Mississippi - hundreds of Red Cross volunteers providing the basic necessities to those in need.

And that's the same image the agency wants to have for this upcoming season, but this time, bigger and better.

And for that, preparation is needed.

That's why Red Cross leaders organized this community training day Saturday at the Jeff Davis campus of Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College.

92 people participated in learning about what it takes to help others when disaster strikes.

Some were former volunteers who wanted to brush up on their knowledge, others were new, like Long Beach resident Lisa Weeks who is hoping to give back the community.

"I don't plan to leave if there's any upcoming hurricanes and I'm interested in working in the shelters and I thought this would be good training to learn how I can help out," said Weeks.

And Steve Torres, who wants to return the favor to an agency who was there for him when he lost everything to Katrina.

"They came by everyday twice a day, bringing water and food and they really, really helped us out," said Torres.

"The goal is to help train our community in both areas, in shelter operations and introduction to disasters so that they have a focus on a point, they know what our training is all about so that they can better help us for a disaster during this hurricane season,"said American Red Cross Emergency Service director Pat Kraemer.

Kraemer says volunteers are needed from various work backgrounds, like business managers, cooks, and babysitters, who would all come in handy.

No one is hoping for another season like the last one, but if the storms come, the American Red Cross plans to be ready.

If you are interested in becoming an American Red Cross volunteer, call you local chapter for more information.

And if you simply want to get your home prepared for the upcoming season, mark you calendar for next Saturday the 20th.

That's when the Hurricane Preparedness Fair will be held from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Lowe's in Gulfport.