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Relief Agencies Prepare To Help Areas Impacted By Hurricane Dorian

BURNSVILLE, Minn. (WCCO) – In a Burnsville warehouse more than 1,700 miles from Hurricane Dorian's projected path, relief is already taking shape.

"We focus on making homes safe and getting people back into them as quickly as possible," said David Kaplan, executive director of Nechama.

Nechama is the Hebrew word for comfort, which is the mission of the 26-year-old disaster assistance agency. Nechama volunteers help those impacted by natural disasters by cutting and clearing downed trees and swamping out homes ravaged by floodwaters.

"Floodwaters are not bath waters. It's important to realize that it is combined with raw sewage, gasoline, fuel and even pesticides. Anything it touches is damaged and destroyed in a lot of ways," Kaplan said.

So, Nechama's staff are busy packing up a truck and trailer with generators, chainsaws, cleaning supplies and tools – anything they will need to assist those hardest hit by the approaching hurricane.

In Minneapolis, local Red Cross volunteers are also getting prepared for the relief mission to the southeast coastline. Already, 12 Minneapolis Red Cross workers are pre-staged in Florida where they will be ready to respond. Back at headquarters, a Red Cross van is getting checked out for what may well be the long trip south.

"We're expecting an estimated 50,000 people directly impacted and displaced," said Jason Bengtson, regional disaster chief.

Bengtson and his staff will manage the expected hundreds of volunteers to set up and operate temporary shelters, providing housing, medical and spiritual care to those residents impacted by the hurricane.

"The majority will be working with shelters but also with people behind the scenes. We'll have IT professionals doing technology work and logistics, as well as volunteers making sure everyone gets the supplies they need," Bengtson said.

By Sunday, relief agencies will have a better idea of exactly where to head to begin the job of making shattered lives whole.

The American Red Cross and Nechama have ways to help their Hurricane Dorian relief efforts on their websites.

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