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They're often the first people to respond when disaster strikes, providing food, shelter, and aid to victims and first responders.

But in Middle Georgia, American Red Cross leaders say they're desperate for help.

In fact, Peggy Bentz, who works at the Dublin branch says thirteen of their counties - Baldwin, Bleckley, Hancock, Jones, Monroe, Peach, Putnam, Taylor, Telfair, Treutlen, Twiggs, Washington, and Wilkinson have zero volunteers.

Even Bibb County only has two, as does Crawford. Wilcox, Pulaski, Dodge, Wilcox, Jasper, and Johnson each only have one.

That means when fires or other disasters happen in those counties, instead having someone that can quickly get to the scene, they have to rely on the volunteers from Laurens County, which depending on the location, could take hours.

In last month's fire in downtown Eastman, for example, Dodge County's only volunteer was also a firefighter, and their other volunteer was in training. So, after already working on a disaster in Warner Robins that morning, Peggy's crew had to rush over from Dublin to help.

"These guys between training and having to go out, they are being run to pieces," Bentz says.

It's why she says she's "desperate" for more volunteers. And since residents of those rural counties often complain how long services can take to reach them, she says getting trained as a volunteer can allow people to help their local communities.

To volunteer, you can contact branches in Macon at (478) 743-8671, Warner Robins at (478) 923-6332, and Dublin at (478) 275-1754.

You can follow 13WMAZ's Tom George on Twitter @thetomgeorge or like him on Facebook at facebook.com/tomgeorgewmaz

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