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Gazette Premium Content UPDATE: Springs Red Cross sending 2 volunteers to Alabama

MATT STEINER Updated: April 28, 2011 at 12:00 am

UPDATE: The Pikes Peak Chapter of the American Red Cross said Sunday it has sent two volunteers to Alabama areas affected by recent tornadoes. The two are driving a $500,000 Emergency Communications Response Vehicle to the region.

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The storms that have killed hundreds across the South have prompted governors to issue emergency declarations and have put volunteers at the Pikes Peak Chapter of the American Red Cross on standby.

The Red Cross’ Emergency Communications Response Vehicle and the two people who run the unit are ready to jump into action immediately, said Jaici Murcia, the chapter’s director of volunteer and emergency services.

“We have specifically been requested to be able to deploy within a 24-hour period to a disaster relief situation,” said Murcia about the status of “standby.”

The response vehicle is a van with satellite capabilities, Murcia said. It has 12 laptops and 12 satellite phones that could be useful in areas that have had infrastructure damage.

Other volunteers in the Pikes Peak region and the chapter’s Emergency Response Vehicle for food and supply distribution have been notified by the Red Cross to stay on alert. Medical and mental health professionals are ready to volunteer also, but are not on “standby” status, Murcia said.

Murcia and Catherine Novak, the Pikes Peak chapter’s director of marketing expect the office on 8th Street in Colorado Springs to be busier than normal for the next couple of weeks.

Novak said the biggest concern right now is helping people get in touch with loved ones who may have been affected. She said people can register at www.safeandwell.org. Those living in the affected states are also registering at the website so family and friends can know their status.

Murcia said monetary donations represent the most pressing immediate needs right now. She does, however, expect more storms to hit the southern states and prompt more alerts.

“As the duration of the operation extends, we do anticipate more needs,” she said.

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