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Area volunteers prepare for Isaac

By Angela Ward award@news-journal.com
Aug. 26, 2012 at 11 p.m.


Volunteers from the Smith County chapter of the American Red Cross are heading to Tampa, Fla. in case Tropical Storm Isaac makes landfall there,while the East Texas Piney Woods Chapter is asking its volunteers to stay closer to home.

Tammy Prater serves as executive director of both branches and said the nonprofit agency is trying to maximize its resources in order to have the best response to the unpredictable nature of tropical storms.

"If the storm changes course and heads toward Louisiana, it's very possible that evacuees from southern Louisiana would be coming to East Texas," Prater said. "In that case, we'd need our volunteers to remain here to help staff the shelters."

The East Texas Piney Woods Chapter serves Gregg, Harrison, Rusk, Upshur and Panola counties. Prater said she has contacted volunteers and let them know they may be needed in upcoming days.

"While the current trajectory of the storm puts it making landfall in western Florida, that could change overnight," Prater said. "We want to have our volunteers ready for a variety of different scenarios."

Texas chapters of the Red Cross synchronize their operations with the State of Texas based on a 120-hour timeline for potential disasters, such as hurricanes, she said.

"Our emergency services personnel know they might be needed and we've begun polling to see who is available," Prater said. "Right now, we're just kind of waiting to see what happens with the storm."

The team from Smith County could stay in Florida for up to two weeks, depending on where Isaac makes landfall and what kind of damage the storm causes.

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