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Relief on the way: Red Cross sends volunteer to disaster area

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Help is on the way for those dealing with storms and tornadoes. The U.S. Army and Red Cross are sending people to assist with the recovery efforts, and that includes a volunteer from Wisconsin.

Phyllis Wiggins left from the Red Cross at 26th and Wisconsin at 6 a.m. Wednesday. She received the call just 24 hours before that.

“After you come home from one operation, you learn very quickly to have what they call a ‘go-bag.’ That’s basically, you pack all your things you may need on the operation, everything you think is essential and you have it waiting to go so you’re prepared to leave at any time,” said Phyllis Wiggins.

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Wiggins has been deployed for disaster relief before- she spent six weeks in Colorado dealing with flooding. But this time around, she is heading to Baxter Springs Kansas -- that's where the disaster operations headquarters will be -- as a supervisor.

“Mostly I’ll be maintaining the fleet out there, I’ll be the one responsible for helping to get all the vehicles that are needed on the operation and that’s everything from 18 wheel trailer trucks to rental leased cars,” explained Wiggins. “Most people don’t think about this part of the operation because it’s not the part that goes out into the community. And yet it is. Without the vehicles you don’t get the supplies to where they need to go, you cannot transport workers where they need to be. Nobody sees the Red Cross without the vehicles.”

Even though it’s her first time as supervisor, Wiggins has had plenty of training both in the military and the Red Cross to get her to this point.

“My military training helps me basically remain calm. Because I’m not the person that gets the call and starts running around like a chicken with her head cut off,” said Wiggins. “I was in the Army, and they always told us to adapt and overcome. So when you see distress or you see something that’s troubling you just adapt. You quickly think of how can I address the situation -- how can I be helpful here instead of panicking.”

Wiggins said she is glad to be able to lend her skills to help those in need right now. She knows from experience just how much every little bit, and every person, can help.

“It’s a joy that you cannot even really explain to people. This is something when you go out you are doing pure good, you’re only contributing to the good. People come and they really need you and people are really glad to see you and you are providing something for people at a time when they are at their worst,” said Wiggins.

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