SC Red Cross chapter seeks donations for West Coast, Maui disaster relief

SC's American Red Cross chapter plans to send 11 volunteers to help with recovery for people in the wake of Tropical Storm Hillary and wildfires in Hawaii.
Published: Aug. 21, 2023 at 5:50 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 21, 2023 at 9:21 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - South Carolina’s American Red Cross chapter plans to send 11 volunteers to help with recovery for people in the wake of Tropical Storm Hilary and wildfires in Hawaii.

“We have got such an amazing, willing group of volunteers here from South Carolina,” American Red Cross Regional Communications Manager Saskia Lindsay-Smith said. “They will drop everything they are doing and deploy that day.”

Thousands have already been affected by Tropical Storm Hilary. Some have been forced out of their homes while others sit without power or necessary supplies.

Teams are working to open emergency shelters, conduct evacuations and searches, and treat those in the area.

“As you can imagine, people have gone through the worst experiences in their life,” Lindsay-Smith said. “So even having somebody there to provide them comfort is such an important thing.”

The American Red Cross says they do not have an estimate yet for how much disaster relief should be expected or how it will be done.

The region has also sent a handful of volunteers to help those impacted by wildfires in Maui.

“There has been so much devastation,” Regional Communications Director and Disaster Volunteer Mandy McMahon said. “It is heartbreaking to see the scarred landscape. In some areas, the homes are diminished to just dust.”

The death toll recently hit 114 and thousands still stand unaccounted for.

“Many people have not yet located their loved ones, and we still know there may be several who cannot be recovered,” McMahon said. “It has been a very emotional disaster response, with a mass fatality.”

Since disaster relief efforts started, state chapter representatives say they have seen an outpouring of support. But they still need more help.

Teams are asking for donations of any kind.

“In the summer months, we do typically see a decline in donations, and that has been very true this summer,” Lindsay-Smith said.

While they haven’t experienced an official shortage since January of 2021, Lindsay-Smith says they fight the possibility of one starting every day.

“Unfortunately, we are seeing disasters happening more frequently, and a lot of that is due to the climate crisis,” Lindsay-Smith said. “We are having to respond to a much higher volume of disasters, and a lot of them are a lot worse than they were a hundred years ago.”

If you are interested in helping, the American Red Cross encourages you to put your heart out there, no matter how big or small the gesture.

“The American Red Cross is an organization that wants you to put compassion into action,” McMahon said. “If you have a heart to give back, we ask that you step forward.”

For more information on how you can help disaster relief efforts, click here.