PORTLAND – With experts predicting active hurricane and wildfire seasons, the American Red Cross needs volunteers to care for people when disaster strikes.

“Emergencies don’t stop and neither does the work of the Red Cross. We’re working to make sure we can provide critical help in times of disaster,” said James Segerson, regional disaster officer for the Northern New England Region of the Red Cross. “Train now to be a Red Cross volunteer and answer the call to help people in urgent need. You can make real difference.”

The Red Cross will need thousands of volunteers nationally to be ready this disaster season, given the predictions around hurricane and wildfire seasons and the added complexities of COVID-19. The Northern New England Region is seeking additional volunteers to join the ranks of its disaster volunteers who deploy to major disasters.

“You see the best of humanity on disaster relief operations. Red Crossers from all walks of life come together and put their strengths toward the shared mission of helping people through their darkest time,” said Dr. John Devlin of Cape Elizabeth, a volunteer who has deployed numerous times, including in the COVID-19 environment. ”It’s incredibly fulfilling. You get back more than you give.” 

The Atlantic hurricane season, which runs from June 1 through Nov. 30, is off to a busy start. Two tropical storms, Arthur and Bertha, developed before the official start date. Following were Tropical Storms Cristobal, Dolly, Edouard, Fay, Gonzalo and Isaias – the earliest “I” storm on record – and Hurricane Hanna.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center in May had forecasted a likely range of 13 to 19 named storms, with six to 10 possibly becoming hurricanes, for the 2020 season.

Full information on volunteer opportunities is available here.

SHELTER HELP NEEDED There is a special need for volunteers to support sheltering efforts. Because of COVID-19, the Red Cross is placing those needing a safe place to stay in emergency hotel lodging when possible. If hotel stays aren’t possible, then the Red Cross will open traditional shelters. To help keep people safe, we have put in place additional precautions and developed special training for our workforce.

We need volunteers to help staff shelter reception, registration, feeding, dormitory, information collection and other vital tasks to help those we serve. We have both associate and supervisory level opportunities available.

HEALTH SERVICES SUPPORT NEEDED If you are an RN, LPN, LVN, APRN, NP, EMT, paramedic, MD/DO or PA with an active, current and unencumbered license, the Red Cross needs your support. Volunteers are needed in shelters to help assess people’s health. Daily observation and health screening for COVID-19-like illness among shelter residents may also be required. RNs supervise all clinical tasks.

Roles are also available for certified nursing assistants, certified home health aides, student nurses and medical students. We need volunteers who can provide care as delegated by a licensed nurse in shelters. This could include assisting with activities of daily living, personal assistance services, providing health education and helping to replace medications, durable medical equipment or consumable medical supplies.

FURRY FRIENDS NEED HELP TOO When people leave their homes during an emergency, they take their pets with them. The Red Cross is looking for established partner organizations to support the pet sheltering effort.

FOR THOSE INTERESTED IN VOLUNTEERING If you are interested in helping our community should a disaster occur, please go to redcross.org/volunteertoday or contact us at volunteerNNE@redcross.org or 207-523-5107.Be sure to review the CDC guidance for people who are at higher risk for severe illness, consult your health care provider and follow local guidance. Our No. 1 priority is the health and safety of our employees, volunteers and the people we serve.