Local Red Cross volunteers headed out to help after Hurricane Ida

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — The American Red Cross is sending four people from the Greater Rochester chapter to help in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida. They will join 600 Red Cross volunteers who are on the ground supporting relief efforts.

Earlier today, News10NBC spoke with one of them, Richard McCorry, who has volunteered with the Red Cross since 2016.

"First and foremost, we are people of prayer so we pray for the victims and also for the people who are responding – the Red Crossers and our community partners as well. And then, we’re a presence to people," said McCorry.

The Red Cross and other organizations have opened dozens of evacuation shelters offering safe refuge for hundreds of people in Louisiana and Mississippi.

McCorry, who is the Spiritual Care Lead for the chapter, says helping people find hope in the midst of tragedy is his calling.

"Generally I just walk around and talk to people and see who needs that compassionate shoulder.”

That compassion comes through "Disaster Spiritual Care”, which is a team with the Red Cross that specifically helps people find hope.

McCorry says he should be flying out in the next few days. He says he’s been in the middle of other devastating disasters like the building collapse in Surfside Florida, and Hurricane Katrina. He gives an example of how his team creates hope, and this particular story was when he was lending a hand In Surfside.

“One of the spiritual care workers I worked with saw a man wailing. She put her hand on his back, and he looked at her, and then he went back to wailing. It turns out his wife was in the pile, so they hugged, and she said how very sorry she was. That encounter had such an impact that next day. He was telling people how much it meant to him.”

McCorry also says they learned a lot through Katrina and have improved responses, but there is a desperate need for volunteers.

"90% of our workforce is volunteer, and they’re kind of gray like me, so we could always use more volunteers.”

It seems like things always get worse before they get better. McCorry says the Red Cross is there ’til the end.

"The recovery process is going to be long-lasting, but the Red Cross will be there that whole time.”

To give you an example of how catastrophic Ida has been, News10NBC was able to get in touch with one family who is in Louisiana now. A local family member tells us they lost power and was told they might not get it back for three weeks, so in order to preserve the power they have left, they couldn’t speak with us at this time.

With an ongoing need for volunteers, even here locally, the Rochester chapter of the American Red Cross is holding a volunteer recruitment open house on Wednesday, September 8 from 3:00 p.m.- 7:00 p.m. at the West Henrietta office (825 John Street Suite 209). It will be open to anyone for volunteer positions to support disaster missions here in our region and across the country.

The American Red Cross Greater Rochester Chapter serves eight area counties – Monroe, Ontario, Wayne, Livingston, Yates, Seneca, Cayuga, and Allegany.