Help California wildfire victims

Red Cross recruiting San Diegans for disaster relief

SAN DIEGO -- One by one, more than 800 people in San Diego have stepped up to be first-time Red Cross volunteers.

In order to keep up with the high demand for volunteers following the destruction caused by hurricanes Harvey and Irma, the American Red Cross of San Diego/Imperial Counties has had to provide crash courses on disaster relief. In these condensed sessions, the education and training that usually takes weeks are accomplished in just a few days.

"I saw everything that was happening," volunteer Dawn Ridz said. "Of course, I could send a check but I felt like, with all of the destruction, I wanted to do more. I wanted it to be personal. Be able to touch people and let them know it was going to be OK."

Usually, the local chapter sends at most a dozen people to a particular emergency. In this case, it's been almost 100, with half of those coming from the crash courses.

"This is the first time we've had boot camps back to back to back," said Emily Cox with the Red Cross. "Incredible the number of people we've had express interest. It's at least three times our normal number of people that we receive."

Depending on in which direction Hurricane Maria moves, some of the recently trained men and women could soon be deployed.