Local disaster relief organizations head to North Carolina

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. As the east coast braces for Hurricane Florence, disaster response groups from around the country, including a few from the Ozarks are gearing up and shipping out to help.

Local teams with the American Red Cross of South Missouri are already on their way to North Carolina. Teams from Convoy of Hope hit the road starting Wednesday.

Both organizations are in the business of helping people get through one of the worst times of their lives.

They've been closely monitoring the severe weather near the east coast and decided now is the time to move out.

Disaster happens to be kind of a constant in our line of work, said Stacy Burks, Executive Director of the American Red Cross of Southern Missouri

Jeff Nene with Convoy of Hope Springfield said, "We can be anywhere in the country within a couple of days."

Local disaster response teams set a relief plan in motion so that they are ready to help.

"It gives us the opportunity to prepare for the number of volunteers that we need and the area that we think it's going to happen. Every time the storm moves a little bit we have to adjust our volunteers. That's something that we have the capabilities to do and to react very quickly," said Burks.

They have to stay as mobile as possible while transporting truckloads of supplies.

Nene said, "It's critical that our team stay flexible. That's why they don't know where they're going until they get there. The idea is to get as close as we can before the storm hits and then be able to safely come in on the weak side of the storm."

Once the teams establish themselves where they're needed most they get to work setting up shelters, distributing food, water, medicine and anything else needed to get people through a desperate time.

"They're primary responsibility will be to provide hope and comfort and supplies to those folks who have left their homes for the safety of an evacuation or a long term shelter," said Burks.

For the volunteers from the Ozarks, it's all about being able to help others during their time of need.

Nene said, "People from the Ozarks always want to help. It's always refreshing for us and encouraging for us to see the kind of response we get from right here in the Ozarks."

"When you have somebody who shows up with a Red Cross vest or a blanket and puts their arms around you and says it's going to be alright, we're going to make sure that we can help you and we're here to offer what we can," said Burks.