Saturday, September 10, 2005

Red Cross says needs 40,000 Katrina volunteers

Red Cross says needs 40,000 Katrina volunteers

BATON ROUGE, Louisiana (Reuters) - The American Red Cross said on Saturday it needs 40,000 additional volunteers in the next few weeks to replace worn-out relief workers helping Hurricane Katrina victims.

"This is a disaster of such scope and such significance that it is not going to go away in a few weeks or a few months," said Ken Degnan, public affairs specialist for the Red Cross. "We need more people."

The relief agency is sheltering 160,000 survivors, has provided 6 million meals and is operating 675 shelters in 23 U.S. states, an unprecedented effort that is taxing the 114-year-old organization, Degnan said.

The 36,000 Red Cross volunteers currently working the disaster will start rotating back to their homes beginning next week, so replacements are needed, he said.

The agency is asking recruits to contact their local Red Cross, which will provide training in such fields as shelter management, public health and working through government bureaucracies set up to assist disaster victims.

"It may seem like pretty simple to come into a shelter and help out," Degnan said. "But when you are dealing with large numbers of people in a congregate living facility you need to be trained."