Shannan Pyland, Maui's Red Cross volunteer of the year, left the islands for New York on Thursday evening to join the American Red Cross relief effort in the wake of Superstorm Sandy.
She was among 10 volunteers from Hawaii en route to White Plains, N.Y., for two- to three-week disaster assignments, the American Red Cross Hawaii State Chapter said Thursday.
Nine will be working in shelters and one in health services, said Coralie Matayoshi, chief executive officer of the American Red Cross, Hawaii State Chapter.
Pyland has been a Red Cross volunteer since 2009, holding several positions on Lanai and Maui. On Lanai, Pyland served as the Disaster Action Team captain, recruiting and organizing training sessions for residents, working to identify potential shelter locations and food resources, and connecting with local vendors to improve sheltering and feeding capabilities during times of disasters.
She serves as a volunteer Red Cross hot line operator, receiving calls from first responders and deploying disaster volunteers to the scene. She also is a disaster services instructor and sheltering lead volunteer for the county.
"We have reached out to our own trained disaster Red Cross volunteers for deployment for Hurricane Sandy," said Matayoshi.
Pyland, a volunteer from Kauai, three from the Big Island and five from Oahu headed out Thursday. Two more volunteers were expected to depart for the storm-ravaged area today.
"They will gain valuable experience to bring back to our state so that we will be better prepared when the next major disaster strikes Hawaii," Matayoshi said.
The Hawaii residents will be part of a contingent of 3,300 Red Cross volunteers that has and will be opening up shelters in nine states. They will be distributing meals, water and trailers full of relief supplies, the news release said.
"The storm has left devastation in its wake, and we will be helping people for weeks to come," said Matayoshi. "This will be very costly, and the Red Cross needs help now. We ask everyone to support us as we help people recover from this massive storm."
Donations can be made through the website www.redcross.org, by calling (800) RED Cross (733-2767) or through the mail at American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, D.C., 20013 and to the American Red Cross-Hawaii State Chapter, 4155 Diamond Head Road, Honolulu 96816.
Texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 will enable a $10 donation.
To contact friends or relatives in the affected areas, the Red Cross encourages people to register on the Red Cross Safe and Well website, a secure and easy-to-use online tool. Messages may be left on the site. Call or go to the Red Cross website to register.