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'People are depending on us': Woman helped by Red Cross in past hurricane urges Georgians to volunteer

Georgia's American Red Cross is getting ready to send about 75 volunteers out to where they are needed with about 30 staff left at Macon's command center to manage.

MACON, Ga. — The American Red Cross's storm preparations are almost in full swing now.

They've been preparing since last week for Hurricane Ian to hit land.

Tuesday morning, they started setting up their Macon command center.

Over the course of the next 48 to 72 hours, they say, things are about to get busy.

In September of 1999, Susan Everitt evacuated from her Myrtle Beach home with her husband and daughter.

"We ended up having 18 feet of water in our house," Everitt said.

That's because of Hurricane Floyd.

The water stayed for about 5 weeks.

"We had no family there, sort of on our own; and then we weren't," Everitt said.

About a month later, they were able to boat back into their neighborhood.

"Police were there, FEMA were there, and these amazing people wearing these red vets came up and immediately just gave hugs, 'It's going to be OK, we are here to help you,'" Everitt said.

The people in red were the American Red Cross.

"It was just amazing. It was really amazing. 20 years later, I still tear up about it. These people who don't know me, who don't live there, who have come in literally just to help other people in need; and I was one of those people," Everitt said.

So now, more than 20 years later, she's about to be one of those people in red for the families of Hurricane Ian.

Georgia's American Red Cross is getting ready to send about 75 volunteers out to where they are needed with about 30 staff left at the command center to manage.

"You never know when it's going to be you, or someone you love, or your neighbor, so volunteer now," Everitt said.

Right now, they are communicating with local and state officials, directors, and managers to prepare for the potential loss of power and flooding.

They're also working closely with Augusta, Columbus, and cities in Florida to pivot their operations if needed.

"Everybody has their function and everybody had their workspace," Kirk said.

Adelaide Kirk is staying in Macon throughout Ian's stay.

She is the Red Cross's Columbus Executive Director.

"It is at the early stages, but believe me, a lot of work has gone in," Kirk said.

"You can't show up the day a hurricane is making landfall and be prepared. People are depending on us. Their lives are depending on us, so we take this work really seriously," Everitt said.

Kirk also says there are some things you could do as you wait for the storm to arrive in Georgia.

"We also provide 40% of the nation's blood supply, so if you haven't given blood, now is the time to do it. Go ahead and make an appointment in the coming days and go give blood, because there will be blood drives that get cancelled because of that, because of severe weather all across the eastern seaboard, so, please, please go out and give blood," Kirk said.

Kirk says Wednesday, Georgia Red Cross teams will head out to set up shelters next.

Right now, they're waiting to release those locations as the storm continues to move, but they will be releasing them soon.

"The materials are in place. The people are in place. We know our jobs. We know our assignments. We know what needs to be done. Now, it's just a matter of getting it done," Everitt said.

Download the Red Cross Emergency app onto your phone.

App notifications will eventually release shelter locations and any updates you might need to know.

They also encourage you to donate to the American Red Cross online to help them pay for supplies throughout Hurricane Ian.

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