Last Modified: Tuesday, May 21, 2013 10:06 PM
Two Louisiana Red Cross volunteers — one of them from Lake Charles — headed to Oklahoma on Tuesday after a half-mile-wide tornado ripped through the Oklahoma City suburbs Monday, killing at least 24 people.
Lake Charles resident Mary Daw and Don Baxter of Baton Rouge took the nine-hour trip Tuesday from Lake Charles. They will help give out food and supplies.
This is Daw’s 12th time deploying to a disaster site, including previous trips to Oklahoma and New York. Daw first got involved with the Red Cross after Hurricane Katrina.
“I’ve been to a lot of places. I love going and being of service to others,” she said. “They need our help, and someone has to do it.”
Baxter said south Louisiana is “no stranger to devastation,” but said tornadoes can be worse than hurricanes because there is little time to prepare.
“We can feel for these people,” he said. “We need to help out. It’s something that needs to be done. Everyone should care like this, and we would have a much better world.”
Four other vehicles with eight volunteers from south Louisiana left Tuesday from Baton Rouge, Lafayette and New Orleans. The Red Cross sends two people per vehicle. A regular first response deployment lasts 14-21 days.
“The Red Cross is very important in situations like this,” said Joe Johnson, local disaster response specialist. “In a lot of the smaller communities the Red Cross is at the forefront of disaster response.”
With recent budget cuts, the federal government has started to rely more on the Red Cross, Johnson said.
“We’ll be working very closely with FEMA and Homeland Security to make sure all the victims are taken care of,” he said.
More volunteers will be deployed in the coming days, Johnson said.
The Red Cross relies on monetary donations to help disaster victims. To donate, text REDCROSS to 90999, visit www.redcross.org or call 800-RED-CROSS. Donations can also be made at the local office, 3512 Kirkman St.