KINGSPORT, Tenn. (WJHL) – As the Gulf Coast braces for landfall of Hurricane Ian, some local volunteers are already on the ground getting shelter and supplies in place.

The American Red Cross of Northeast Tennessee said they sent three people to Florida to help get evacuation shelters prepared before the hurricane makes landfall.

The local chapter’s executive director is among them to act as a government liaison, communicating with local officials about supply needs in impacted areas.

Providing assistance during hurricane events is nothing new for the Northeast Tennessee chapter, said Red Cross Disaster Program Manager Dawn Day.

“You name the hurricane, we’ve sent people,” Day said. “Because we don’t have a coastline, we are looked upon across the United States to send people to these hurricanes.”

Safety is a top priority for the Red Cross. Volunteers are staying away from the hurricane’s expected path and getting those shelters prepared well ahead of time.

“When we find that it’s inevitable, we go ahead and send people down. And of course we keep them out of harm’s way until in happens,” Day said. “It’s better for us to have people there ready to go than to try to send a whole bunch of people afterwards.”

Day said it’s likely they will send 10-15 additional volunteers after the hurricane passes.

But other local emergency and disaster response teams are preparing in case the hurricane causes a major disaster requiring a vast response.

Kingsport Fire Department Public Education Officer Barry Brickey said KFD and its adjoining response teams have responded to coastal hurricanes before.

Brickey said in major disaster events, states will request additional crews from FEMA or the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA).

“They will go from there to contact the local EMAs in Sullivan County, Washington County, and that’s when we will be called up,” Brickey said. “There’s always a chance that we might be called up.”

Brickey said it’s likely the department’s urban search and rescue crews that would be needed on the coast.

The necessary staff and equipment is ready to leave down South quickly if called by the coordinating agencies.

“We’re always prepared just in case whether it’s going to impact the Southern coast or whether the rain’s going to come up here,” Brickey said.

Also in Kingsport, a disaster response charity is on stand-by in case they are needed on the Gulf Coast.

Jim Ramey is the disaster relief director for the Sullivan Baptist Association.

Ramey and a crew of 35 people can leave for the coast with a truck and kitchen equipment that can feed thousands.

“We have a feeding unit that we can do 45 thousand meals a day,” Ramey said. “I have a standing order with US Foods, and I just call and I give them a job number and they activate that.”

Ramey said his crew can grow to up to 80 volunteers if needed.

A veteran of disaster response since 1987, Ramey said it takes mental preparation to help in impacted areas.

“Especially when they’re a three or four category [hurricane], the loss is tremendous,” Ramey said. “We have training that actually makes us ready to prepare for that.”

Brickey said if local crews are called down to help, it would likely be a few days after the hurricane has passed to relieve crews from places closer to the affected areas.

The American Red Cross of Northeast Tennessee is offering a training course for anyone wanting to volunteer in their response along the Gulf Coast.

That will be at 10 a.m. Thursday at the American Red Cross of Northeast Tennessee headquarters.