Many people from South Snohomish and North King counties are volunteering and working to help those impacted by Hurricane Katrina.
“Obviously my heart goes out to the victims,” said Lyn Gross, the South Snohomish County emergency services director. “And my heart goes out to the people who are trying to help them. They do not have enough resources. And everything is just working against them… . They are putting every effort to what they can and trying to pull together enough resources to make a difference.”
“Keep these people in your prayers,” Gross said. “It is going to be a long, long recovery.”
Here are some of the efforts being made and ways to help:
At least four area residents are among the thousands of Red Cross and emergency response volunteers that made their way to the disaster area on Aug. 30 and 31, according to the Emergency Services Coordinating Agency in Brier.
Don Eager, a retired Edmonds man, drove an emergency response vehicle from the County’s Emergency Services Coordinating Agency to the area.
Bill Westlake of Mountlake Terrace, Pat LaJambe of Edmonds and John Clark of Shoreline flew to Houston by Aug. 31 to help with the relief. In Houston, they received their work assignments from the Red Cross and were expected to be sent to Louisiana.
More South Snohomish County volunteers will join the relief effort in the months to come to relieve exhausted colleagues.
Two Mountlake Terrace women, Rita Duncan and Jamie Gravelle, an emergency coordinator at Emergency Services Coordinating Agency in Brier, are preparing to go in October and help for several weeks. Gravelle is a Mountlake Terrace City Councilwoman.
“It was just really amazing,” Gravelle said. “You have this group of people from all over the country coming in together into a place that has been pretty well knocked off its feet.”
All of the volunteers have completed Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) classes and Red Cross courses to cope with this kind of disaster. They know how to give first aid, evacuate others safely and help relief workers.
For the volunteers, their top priority will be “mass care” — providing water, food, shelter and medical care to hundreds of thousands of survivors, Gravelle said.
“After that, you try to look at what else you can do,” Gravelle said. “Then you start looking at how you can start pulling it back together and get life back to normal.”
Many structures, however, will have to be torn down even if they are still standing, said Lyn Gross, the South Snohomish County emergency services director. Many buildings sustained damage from winds, flood water or fires. Toxic molds, a health hazard, can infest the buildings.
“A lot of those structures will never be habitable ever again,” Gross said. “It is going to be a huge health hazard. It is similar to what we saw in Sri Lanka and India when the tsunami went through there. The conditions are very much the same.”
Snohomish County Red Cross has more than 200 volunteers that will donate their time locally and assist Southeastern Americans who have been affected by Hurricane Katrina, said Chuck Morrison, the executive director of the chapter.
Red Cross has opened more than 300 shelters and will provide aid to more than 100,000 people, he said. Morrison said the Red Cross is still looking for volunteers who will be trained and sent to assist on the Gulf Coast for two to three weeks.
“There are three things people can do: donate time, donate blood or donate money,” Morrison said.
Five registered nurses and one unit secretary from Stevens Hospital will join the Red Cross effort to help hurricane victims. Stevens will pay the volunteers their normal base pay while they are away, said a hospital spokesman.
The nurses are Kelly Buchanan, Teresa Judd, Lauri Maier, Joleen Peck and Amanda Wiggins. Andrea Hernandez of the Wound Healing Institute also volunteered.
A Northwest hospital nurse traveled to the Gulf Coast to assist victims as part of the Northwest Medical Team, said media coordinator Richelle Kerns. The nurse will be traveling to Biloxi, Miss., and will stay for about two weeks.
Emergency services director director Lyn Gross cautioned against South Snohomish County residents traveling south to volunteer or deliver donations. While their intentions are good, “freelance volunteers” from distant towns can distract relief workers by endangering themselves or others.
“Neighbor helping neighbor is one thing,” Gross said. “But by going into an area that you are not familiar with, you are putting yourself in danger as well as those around you. The intent comes right from the heart, but it does not help if they become victims themselves.”
Instead, she encourages residents to contact the Red Cross or emergency preparedness organizations about volunteering.
Gross also cautioned against sending donations of goods unless emergency response groups specifically ask for them. Items burden relief workers who have to sort through the donations, Gross said. Monetary donations are preferred.
• The Snohomish County Deputy Sheriffs Association and the reserve deputy organization established a fund at Bank of America to aid public safety officers affected by the hurricane. Donations can be made to the “COPS Helping Cops” Fund at any Bank of America branch.
• If you’re shopping at the Alderwood mall, look for envelopes to mail donations to the American Red Cross. There will be signs throughout the mall.
• Calvary Fellowship at 23302 56th Ave. W. in Mountlake Terrace is collecting donations for hurricane victims. For more information, call 425-775-3422.
• Word of Life Church, 4100 200th St. SW, Lynnwood, is accepting donations to purchase toiletry items for survivors. For information, call 425-776-5433.
• Pastor Casey Treat and the Christian Faith Center near Mill Creek are working with churches such as the Destiny World Prayer Center in the Southeast to assist those in need. Starting Sunday, Sept. 4, the church plans to take up offerings for the victims of Hurricane Katrina. The 8,000 members that belong to the church hope to raise $20,000.
• Food Lifeline, in Shoreline, is dedicated to providing food and supplies to hurricane victims. Working with America’s Second Harvest, Food Lifeline is sending truckloads of food and water to gulf regions, as well as experienced staff members. Monetary donations are preferred. If residents donate food, it will likely stay local, to replace outgoing supplies. To make a financial contribution, visit www.food lifeline.org, call 206-545-6600 or mail checks to 1702 NE. 150th St, Shoreline, Wash., 98155.