Tampa Bay Red Cross standing by to help tornado victims

Tampa, Florida -- Tampa Bay Red Cross volunteers are on standby to help those families devastated by the deadly tornadoes in Arkansas, Oklahoma and Iowa.

On Sunday, a tornado tore a path 80 miles long through Arkansas, killing at least 16 people there.

Volunteers in Tampa were helping find food, shelter and medicine for victims displaced by a massive apartment fire Monday morning. Simultaneously, volunteers were preparing to deploy to the tornado devastated areas.

"I am going to do everything I can to pour my heart out to that person and let them pour their heart out to you," said volunteer Pat Spencer.

Spencer has worked for the Red Cross in Tampa Bay for nine years but has never deployed. If she leaves to help Sunday's tornado victims, this will be her first deployment.

"I am not nervous, just anxious to get there to help them," said Spencer. "I have great training here, and I am ready to take that with me to those who need me there."

Another volunteer, Lisa Harrell, is helping prepare volunteers for natural disaster situations. She calls herself a "Katrina baby" because helping those victims of Katrina in 2005 was her first disaster situation.

"You do get very little sleep," said Harrell. "It's a very high stress environment. You are talking with the clients and serving them and helping them and basically giving them a shoulder to cry on."

The Red Cross asks that you donate financial aid instead of items because items cost money to store and ship. It also allows the volunteers to help the local economy in the devastated areas because they spend the donations there at the disaster location.

Neither, TECO or Duke Energy have been asked to send out their electric trucks or crews.

If you would like to donate, click here.


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