Red Cross offices all over the Tri-States are being flooded with calls to help respond to the tornado relief in Joplin, Missouri. While many people are calling to donate, some of the calls are from people looking to volunteer with the recovery efforts.
But believe it or not, potential volunteers are being turned away outside of the city limits and told to go home.
The American Red Cross also is turning people away, but they say there's good reason.
Northeast Missouri Chapter of the American Red Cross Executive Director Tom Dugger says in disasters like Joplin, volunteers have to be certified by an agency. Most would think the more volunteers the better, but Dugger says too many untrained volunteers in a disaster area like Joplin add to the chaos and become a liability.
That's why the Red Cross requires all volunteers to go through disaster response classes before registering them as a volunteer.
When a volunteer completes disaster training classes, his or her name will be entered on the Disaster Service Human Resources System. Every registered volunteer is listed on this secure Red Cross site, along with his or her areas of expertise. Then when a disaster occurs, national Red Cross recruiters find registered volunteers in the skill sets and availabilities they need.
Dugger says if you do want to volunteer to help in disaster situations like Joplin, now is the time to take action and get the training you need to be a registered volunteer.
Dugger said, "Then you need to volunteer locally to get the experience you need to respond to a national disaster. That way you'll know what you're doing."
If you'd like to train to be a volunteer, call your local Red Cross office for training opportunities.
Northeast Missouri Chapter of the American Red Cross 573-221-0320
Adams County Chapter of the American Red Cross 217-222-2477
The most needed skills are in the areas of nursing and mental health. People also are needed to train for damage assessment and mass care, which means feeding and sheltering lots of people in disaster situations.
In the meantime, are you helping relief efforts in Joplin? With money, donations or time? Comment below or visit our Facebook page here to tell us all about it!