West Virginia couple deploys with Red Cross to Florida

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Two volunteers with the American Red Cross in West Virginia are headed to Florida to help residents prepare and recover from Hurricane Dorian. Chip and Jan Pickering flew out of Yeager Airport Saturday morning bound for a staging area in Orlando.

“There are three staging areas, Atlanta, Jacksonville, and Orlando. They don’t know yet where the storm is going to hit,” Chip told reporters as he and his wife waited for their flight.

Indications are Dorian is intensifying as it comes ashore and could make landfall anywhere along the Atlantic Coast from Florida into the Carolina’s. The storm has the potential to be at Category 4 strength when it make landfall. Pickering said relief organizations and authorities are bracing as best they can.

“Once they identify where the landfall is going to be, we’ll roll in and set up a hurricane shelter. People can evacuate to that as a safe point of refuge and ride out the storm. Then we’ll convert it to a post-landfall shelter,” he said.

This will be a fifth deployment for the Pickerings and their third national disaster response. They were part of the relief for Hurricane Florence last year and their first assignment was Hurricane Katrina.

Initially they expect to be in Florida for two weeks.

“That’s a standard deployment for the Red Cross,” he said. “We have an opportunity, depending on circumstances, to extend. They’ll let you stay as long as you’re healthy, but it takes a real mental toll.”


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