Area Red Cross volunteers fly to Arkansas to help with disaster relief

Published: May. 30, 2019 at 8:54 PM CDT
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Arkansas' governor is warning about flooding along the Arkansas River that's expected to reach record levels around the state this week. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has also warned Arkansans about the possibility of historic flooding.

"We've never seen this before. We've never had to deal with this before, so there are a lot of unknowns," said Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson.

With homes and buildings underwater, Arkansas is in need of help as it battles never before seen flood waters.

The American Red Cross says it's providing shelter for hundreds of people displaced by disasters down south and sending down volunteers, including some from northeast Wisconsin.

“Water is scheduled to rise yet, so it's not anywhere near over," said Jane Nesbitt, a Red Cross volunteer from Sturgeon Bay.

Nesbitt, a registered nurse, flew to Arkansas Thursday afternoon to help with disaster relief. She's helped with Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Matthew and Wisconsin flooding relief in the past.

“You see pictures of their homes and you're sitting in the comfort of your own chair and you know it's like, why not go help someone else?" says Nesbitt.

Nesbitt will aid those who have lost their medical equipment and prescriptions and track down people who need help.

She's joined by Larry Juse of Sheboygan, who will be helping out in a shelter.

"Within that shelter he'll be helping to support people who are coming in as individuals, as families and staying there for as long as they need the American Red Cross to be there," said Steve Hansen, executive director of American Red Cross of Northeast Wisconsin.

The Red Cross already has 500 volunteers in southern states lending a hand.

More Wisconsin based volunteers are expected to be deployed in the coming days as water continues to rise.

Hansen says 17 Red Cross volunteers from Wisconsin have been deployed to Oklahoma, Arkansas and Kansas. He says that number could easily double or even triple by the weekend if the disasters continue to get worse.

'We're deploying from divisional areas if you will right now,” said Hansen. “So we're sending volunteers out as close to the disaster areas as we possibly can, it's much more economical for us to do that."

Nesbitt says every deployment brings challenges, but the rewards far outweigh anything she'll face.

"You've maybe given them a small bit of hope or help back that they need, and they can turn around to you and say 'thank you' and that just warms your heart," said Nesbitt.

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