NORFOLK, Virginia — As Hurricane Dorian continues to strengthen, local support is on the way.
Most models show the storm barreling into Florida early next week.
The American Red Cross is sending help.
Marissa Nihill, Executive Director of the American Red Cross in Hampton Roads said nationwide, the Red Cross will deploy 30 tractor-trailers to Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina.
Nihill said the Red Cross will deploy 300 volunteers to Florida by the end of Friday. The goal is to have the first group of volunteers get to Florida safely before the hurricane makes landfall.
“When it comes to things like a hurricane, we have [advance] notice, so what we like to do is move the volunteers to the area before impact so that they can be there,” said Nihill.
The Red Cross has a request to deploy an additional 450 volunteers after the hurricane hits.
On Thursday afternoon, John Bryant, a Portsmouth man, stopped by the Red Cross in Norfolk to pick up his red vest before heading off to Florida. Bryant said the Red Cross called him at 10 a.m. to check if he would be able to go to Florida.
Bryant, who goes by “Jolly John,” didn’t think twice before saying yes.
“It’s good to help people, you know? If it happened to me, I’d want somebody there. I go on mission trips all over the world it’s good to help people that need things,” said Bryant.
It’s his first time volunteering with the Red Cross.
As of Thursday afternoon, Nihill said six volunteers from Virginia have agreed to assist in Florida. That number is expected to rise.
“It’s a very rewarding experience as a volunteer to have that opportunity to say, ‘Here’s something to eat, here’s a place to say, I know you lost your home, but we’re here to support you,’” said Nihill.
Bryant said giving back is important to him, because when his family needed help, the Red Cross stepped in.
“My brother’s house caught on fire and got struck by lightning one time. Their house burned up, the Red Cross helped them. That was personal to me because it was my brother,” said Bryant.
He smiled as he tried on his Red Cross vest. For him, wearing the vest is an opportunity to give back.
“If it’s in your heart, you don’t have a problem with it,” said Bryant.
Bryant will fly to Florida early Friday morning.