Seven more volunteers from the American Red Cross Central New York Chapter are being deployed to the Gulf Coast. The Red Cross is preparing for what could be a large disaster response spanning several states as Hurricane Isaac makes landfall.
Four volunteers are heading to Montgomery, Alabama: Nicki Macallair of Syracuse; Kathy McKenny of Tully; and Lee and Dave Webber of Fulton. Three volunteers are heading to Baton Rouge, Louisiana: Paul Killius of Liverpool; Bill Morris of Syracuse; and Patty Saunders of Skaneateles.
Killius and Morris left Hancock International Airport in Syracuse at noon on Tuesday, saying their role is to simply provide help in a tough time.
"Basically we're the calm in the storm," Killius says. "Our job is to stay consistent to make sure everything happens the way it should and everybody's taken care of."
All seven volunteers will work at mass care shelters. They're joining four other Central New York Chapter volunteers who left for Florida last Friday: John Hennessy of Clay; Dan Murphy of Skaneateles; Sam Tassone of Cicero; and Laura Smelski of Camillus. Depending on the path of the storm, there's a chance those four volunteers will be moved from Florida to another state.
Overall, the American Red Cross Central New York Region, which includes the Central New York Chapter, has deployed 26 volunteers to Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi.
Killius and Morgan were both deployed to Louisiana to help in Hurricane Katrina's aftermath, and say it is definitely on their minds, and everyone else's mind, as Isaac bears down.
"I'm sure everybody's got Katrina on the back of their minds again," Killius says. Morris added, "Every kind of agency and every government agency learned a lot from Katrina...a lot."
Isaac has winds of 70 mph. Its center was about 230 miles southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River, and it was moving northwest at 10 mph.
Forecasters predict it will come ashore early tomorrow. Hurricane warnings extend across 280 miles from Morgan City, La., to the Florida-Alabama state line. It could become the first hurricane to hit the Gulf Coast since 2008.
With its massive size and slow speed, Isaac could become a punishing rain machine.