Kansans help with Hurricane Laura disaster relief in Louisiana, Texas


Buildings and homes are flooded in the aftermath of Hurricane Laura Thursday, Aug. 27, 2020, in Cameron, La. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW)- More than two dozen Red Cross workers and volunteers from Kansas and Oklahoma are in Louisiana and Texas after Hurricane Laura hit the gulf coast.

Some workers describe the hours leading up to the impact as “sleepless.”

“We had evacuate into areas outside of room into areas in the hotel, ready and in place,” said Jerry Conyers, disaster health service supervisor for the American Red Cross. “So most of the storm did kind of veer off to the east so we were not impacted very hard.”

Conyers is just north of Beaumont, Texas where he said there isn’t sever damage, but still a great need for assistance.

“We’re going to see a lot of people coming back to their homes so that’s going to give us even more clients to help take care of depending on the damage of their homes,” said Conyers.

In Louisiana, Mary Jane Coffman, disaster program manager for the American Red Cross and her team are working to help victims get resources they need. She said some teams still can’t get to every area safely, though.

“Some areas are impassible even, so we’re determining the full extend of the storm,” said Coffman.

COVID-19 is also playing a role in disaster relief. Coffman said masks are required and workers are following safety precautions. Some roles are now virtual like mental health help and some case workers.

“We really are making sure people have the technology and volunteers have the technology to be able to help in that way,” said Coffman.

Workers and volunteers said it’s hard to process disasters like Hurricane Laura even after multiple deployments, but they said it’s their drive to help others that keeps them going.

“Just the sheer devastation that a storm like this can bring is pretty impressive and really really hard to see and sometimes understand how people will recover,” said Coffman.

Some workers and volunteers are expected to be on the ground in Texas and Louisiana for two weeks. Coffman said it is possible to that some will have to return after a short break. Some workers depending on their jobs will have to quarantine once returning home, as well.

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