Hurricane shelters seeking volunteers

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AIKEN --- Aiken County is at the end of South Carolina's hurricane evacuation route and preparing two evacuation shelters by seeking volunteers to work at them.

"We are really putting a big push on getting more people trained to help us with shelter operations," said Suzanne Jackson, the executive director of the Red Cross' Aiken chapter. Aiken County has shelter space at South Aiken and North Augusta high schools and other reserve locations.

The Red Cross chapter will hold a training class Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church on Barnwell Avenue in Aiken. Prospective volunteers should call the Aiken chapter at (803) 641-4152.

"That is such a critical mission for us because when we have to help people displaced from the coast they'll come as far as North Augusta to seek shelter," Ms. Jackson said.

The evacuees won't have family in the area and won't be familiar with it, she said.

"We want to make sure we are up and ready to go so that we can welcome these people."

The hurricane season is June 1 to Nov. 30. Officials with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have predicted a near-normal Atlantic hurricane season, with nine to 14 named storms, four to seven likely becoming hurricanes. One to three could become major hurricanes of a category 3, 4 or 5 strength.

Sarah Townsend, of the Augusta Red Cross chapter, said it doesn't have training for hurricane shelter volunteers scheduled, but it is constantly looking for helpers should shelters be opened.

Ms. Townsend said many churches in Augusta are on a list of shelters. The number of shelters needed would depend on the size of the disaster, she said.

To volunteer with the Augusta chapter, call (706) 724-8481.

Reach Preston Sparks at (803) 648-1395, ext. 110, or preston.sparks@augustachronicle.com.


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