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Red Cross volunteers on standby to go south

By Dannika Lewis, dlewis@wisctv.com
Published On: Nov 18 2013 10:09:47 PM CST

MADISON, Wis. -

Two Madison-based volunteers and two others in Janesville are packed and ready to head down to the regions hit hardest by this weekend’s EF4 tornado.

Red Cross Western Wisconsin branch CEO Tom Mooney said since Sunday, the entire crew has been waiting on word from states to the south of Wisconsin.

The four-person crew and the two emergency vehicles they’re assigned to drive could be needed as soon as Tuesday morning.

Thankfully, Mooney said he has a network of about 200 volunteers to reach out to when disaster strikes.

“Anytime it's within a radius of driving a couple, three hours, our volunteers want to go now. They want to help,” Mooney said.

Mooney said more than 1,000 Red Cross volunteers are already on the ground along the stretch of the tornado’s turmoil. He said the organization at large has set up a dozen shelters across five states. Eight of those are in Illinois.

“It's going to take a long time for those people to rebuild. I mean, just the infrastructure alone - the utilities, the sewer, water, all of those capabilities, lights, putting lights on - having that luxury to be able to have that is going to take some time,” Mooney said. “These people are going to be displaced for a long time.”

Mooney said food, water and shelter are among immediate needs. Because of that, Mooney said those who want to help from Wisconsin should donate water, not canned goods.

“The movement of such goods, it makes it difficult,” Mooney said.

Mooney added if you feel compelled to go down to those places hit by the tornado, you should do so with an organized group.

“If everybody just goes down in that area and you're not well, as far as organized and planning in place, you're going to be more of a problem than you are part of the solution," Mooney said.

Mooney said a dire situation like the one thousands are experiencing throughout the Midwest should get us to prepare for such a disaster as best as we can.

“If we were to have a large disaster here, where would we shelter? Could we shelter 5,000 people? Could we shelter 25,000 people if something bad happened here?” Mooney said. “And that's really all about preparation. It's about working with other agencies so we are better prepared, so we have the capacity to do what we do and make people whole again, at least give them the chance to get back on their feet again.”

Mooney said you can text RED CROSS to 90999 to donate $10 to tornado relief. You can also call 1-800-REDCROSS or visit go online for more ways you can help.

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