As thousands prepare to evacuate Texas and Louisiana, volunteers from the Tri-Cities are heading to the coast


JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – Heather Carbajal is the executive director for the American Red Cross of Northeast Tennessee. Normally, she is one of those who makes the call to volunteers telling them where to go when disaster is preparing to strike. Wednesday evening, she got that call herself.

“Hurricanes can be unpredictable but we are prepared for a large scale response,” Carbajal said. “We have almost 600 volunteers in the field right now and we are expecting to send another wave of volunteers out after the storm hits.”

Carbajal will be deployed to the coast sometime between Friday and the end of the weekend.

“Our emergency response vehicle is on standby, so there’s a good chance that will be sent out and we have two drivers on standby and ready to roll with that,” she said. Those drivers are prepared to leave within an hour’s notice.

Of the 600 volunteers that are in Texas and Louisiana- three are from the Tri-Cities. Another volunteer is supporting virtually.

“The three that are there in person are from Carter, Hawkins, and Sullivan County and then we actually have somebody who is managing logistics for an entire state from her living room in Kingsport,” Carbajal said.

Those who are currently on the ground are preparing shelters, meals, and emergency supplies for when the storm makes landfall.

“After the storm makes landfall and they can get a clearer picture of where their gaps are and what work is really going to need to be done that they’ll open that opportunity up for other people,” she said.

Carbajal is not sure exactly where she is being sent to, but she expects to be working in the shelters, assisting with health and mental health needs as well as assessing damage immediately following the catastrophe.

If you’re interested in volunteering or donating, click here.

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