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Arizona Red Cross volunteers head to tornado impacted communities

Posted at 10:33 PM, May 28, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-29 22:15:19-04

PRESCOTT, AZ — Arizonans are heading to the Midwest to help the thousands of people impacted by deadly tornadoes and historic flooding.

More than half a dozen members of the Arizona Red Cross have already been deployed to provide relief.

Like much of the country, Jim Anderson watched on his TV as entire communities were leveled by strong winds. "When I see it, I think, 'Okay I have to be ready to go, if and when they send me,'" he said.

Tuesday Anderson got the call. "Two hours later the flight was booked."

Anderson leaves for Little Rock Wednesday morning. Arkansas is experiencing record-breaking flooding, with the Governor already declaring a state of emergency.

Anderson, who is 64 and retired, will not be serving meals or passing out blankets though. He is on the technology team.

"At the start of it, it's usually pretty hectic. It can be ten, 12 sometimes even 14 hours a day," said Anderson, who calls Cave Creek home.

"We will be issuing smartphones [and] chargers. We'll also be putting together a wireless network for the locations where we are working."

Anderson says it can be difficult seeing so much devastation and sadness. "But I've also seen great humanity, in [people] helping each other," he said.

"Even the people who lost a lot, they are very appreciative of the help."

Anderson and many other Arizonans will be that help. Volunteering for long hours away from their families, with zero pay. but showing fellow Americans they care.

"It's the hardest I have ever worked, for the least amount of pay, with the greatest joy," he said.

So far this year, 38 people have died in 10 tornadoes in the United States, including a combined seven within the last week in Iowa, Missouri, Oklahoma and Ohio.

The National Weather Service has received 934 tornado reports so far this year, up from the yearly average of 743 observed tornadoes. More than 500 of those reports came in the last 30 days. The actual number is likely lower, however, because some of the reports probably come from different witnesses who spot the same twister.

Some parts of the country may see relief in the next few days. Missouri remained under a severe weather threat Tuesday night, barely a week after a massive tornado ripped through the state capital of Jefferson City, but the high pressure system that raised the risk is set to move out of the state by Thursday.