Iowa Red Cross volunteers assist tornado victims - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Iowa Red Cross volunteers assist tornado victims

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DUBUQUE (KWWL) -

Early Wednesday morning, American Red Cross of the Tri-States volunteer from Dubuque Tracy Birch left for the Cedar Rapids airport. She'll spend two weeks in Alabama, assisting victims of last week's deadly tornado outbreak.

In late April, hundreds of tornadoes tore through the south, shattering homes and businesses in their wake and leaving hundreds of people dead.

"I expect it to be pretty intense," Birch said. "You're going down to help people that have pretty much lost everything, in some cases. So, just being there for the Red Cross and being able to help these people with their most immediate needs right away is nice."

She joins three other Red Cross of the Tri-States volunteers. According to the Red Cross, Catherine Basten and Shawn Scott Fitzgerald are both of Dubuque. Gloria Moen is from Decorah.

Two volunteers with the Grant Wood Area chapter of the Red Cross are heading to Georgia to assist. Nancy Kinter of Cedar Rapids and Marion's Linda Sutherland will provide client casework support to families affected by the storm.

Red Cross volunteers have just 24 hours' notice before they have to be on a plane. They get the call from the Red Cross, pack their bags and go.

"It's at least a 13-hour day of working, every day," Birch said, "and it's working with the clients, so, listening to them tell you their story and being able to help them in any way you can."

Birch said she couldn't do this without the support of her husband and two grown children.

Volunteers help connect victims with everything from food and shelter to mental health resources, if needed.

The American Red Cross said the number of those displaced is still high. More than 1,200 people slept in Red Cross shelters on Monday night.

KWWL sent a flip camera with Birch, so she can capture the relief effort firsthand. We'll connect with her and other Eastern Iowa volunteers when they return.

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