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Fishers residents volunteering with Red Cross to help wildfire evacuees in Oregon

Fishers residents helping wildfire evacuees in Oregon
Posted at 6:26 PM, Sep 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-16 19:26:21-04

INDIANAPOLIS — Two Fishers residents are stationed in Oregon to help people who have evacuated their homes as wildfires continue on the west coast.

Deb and Jesse McDaniel, of Fishers, are volunteering with the Red Cross. They hit the road and drove to Oregon on Friday.

They’re currently stationed outside of Portland and have been helping deliver food to people who had to evacuate their homes.

Leaders with the Red Cross say they expect the need to keep growing and they need more volunteers.

The American Red Cross is asking for your help right now, saying there is an urgent need for volunteers to help with wildfire and hurricane disaster relief efforts in eight different states.

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“The reality is we’ve got thousands in shelters. The nee is immense," Chad Priest, CEO of the American Red Cross in Indiana, said. "We have 5,000 disaster workers on the scene, but we’re going to need more, and we are asking Hoosiers to help,”

He said the Red Cross hasn’t seen a need for volunteers like this since World War I.

COVID-19 is also playing a role in their need as not all former volunteers are able to help again.

“It's not safe for them to go. They are vulnerable, they have health issues," Priest said. "A global pandemic is creating a bit of a challenge and that is why we are looking for able bodies folks to step up now.”

The McDaniels have been volunteering for years.

“We need to give," Deb said. "We have been very fortunate in our lives with education and good jobs and being able to retire young. Now it is time to help others."

Volunteers complete a training course at their own pace. They must be 18 years or older and pass a background check. Volunteers help with various relief efforts.

“They provide hope and you can't underestimate the power of reaching a hand out to someone in your community and just letting them know you are there," Priest said. "It is the most important thing you can do for each other during a disaster."

“The people have been so appreciative," Deb said. "I mean even people who aren't getting Red Cross services will stop us to thank us for coming. That part is consistent across every kind of disaster we've ever done."

Find more information about becoming a volunteer on the Red Cross website.