UPDATE: Local Red Cross volunteers leave for disaster areas - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

UPDATE: Local Red Cross volunteers leave for disaster areas

Posted: Updated:
MADISON (WKOW) -- About a dozen volunteers from the Western Wisconsin region of the American Red Cross have deployed to areas seriously damaged by strong storms.

The Red Cross has set up disaster relief operations in six states, including Arkansas, Kansas, Alabama, Mississippi, Florida and North Carolina. Some of the areas were flooded and other communities hit by tornadoes. Those deployed will be on scene for at least two weeks, or until needs are met, assisting with shelter, health and mental health services and individual casework.

"The fortunate thing about the Red Cross is we have the capacity," says regional CEO Tom Mooney. "We have the volunteers and the networking set up that we can really respond very quickly to many states."

Barbara Parisi, of Monona, is one of three volunteers who left for Kansas Thursday afternoon from the Dane County Regional Airport. She's been a volunteer with Red Cross since 2010, helping communities in four other disasters across the nation.

Parisi is a disaster mental health worker, offering crisis counseling at shelter sites where families have lost everything.

"They've lost so much not just homes and possessions but their sense of safety, their sense of well being, their sense of control in their lives," says Parisi. "They've all come together, every place I've been they come together as a community, families come together, it's very heartwarming to see the human spirit rise to the occasion."

Parisi says a volunteer can never truly be prepared for the devastation they come across in these disaster areas, but can always be prepared to provide the emotional support families need.

Mooney says right now, crews are still assessing the needs among various communities, but for those who want to help, you can offer a monetary donation. Visit redcross.org for more information.

Anyone who wants to support the Red Cross as a volunteer can call 1-877-618-6628 or email at volunteerwestern.wi@redcross.org.

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MADISON (WKOW) -- A group of five Red Cross volunteers from the Madison area are scheduled to leave from Dane Co. Regional Airport early Thursday afternoon to help in storm-relief efforts in Kansas and Arkansas.

They will assist sheltering, health and mental health services and individual casework.

Seven total volunteers are being deployed from the Red Cross' entire Western Wisconsin Region.

27 News reporter Jennifer Kliese will talk with some of the volunteers leaving from Madison and will have more on their mission tonight on 27 News at 5 and 6.

Anyone who wants to support the Red Cross as a volunteer can call 1-877-618-6628 or email at volunteerwestern.wi@redcross.org.

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