Locals head to Gulf with Red Cross

Three longtime volunteers for the American Red Cross's Southern Oregon chapter are braving high-speed winds and rain as they assist in Tropical Storm Isaac relief efforts in Alabama and possibly Florida.

Phil Gonzales, 76, of Medford; Bill Bradley, 69, of Grants Pass; and Dave Maranov, 65, of Wolf Creek were deployed to the Gulf Coast region this week as part of a nationwide American Red Cross emergency response to aid homeowners threatened by the storm. The storm has already forced hundreds into Red Cross shelters and brought heavy rain, flooding and power outages across the Gulf Coast.

"It's in anticipation of a major operation, but then you knock on wood hoping you're not going to need it," said Tony Hernandez, readiness specialist for the Southern Oregon Red Cross.

The three men were part of a statewide coordinated effort to send 10 volunteers from Oregon. Volunteer crews from Bend, Portland and Eugene have joined the Medford crew near Montgomery, Ala.

Gonzales will work as a shelter operations manager, working to get appropriate shelters set up for those evacuated from their homes.

"I imagine (the number) is going to be quite high," Hernandez said.

Bradley and Maranov will both work doing bulk distribution. The job entails transferring large quantities of supplies such as cots, blankets, toilet paper and other items necessary for facility livability.

"They're the ones that move the bulk items that are necessary to run the operation," Hernandez said.

Hernandez said the three men are dedicated to the American Red Cross. All three had recently returned from Billings, Mont., where they helped with wildfire relief efforts.

"They're very active in the community," Hernandez said. "These guys are really top-notch. They're just good people."

Nationwide, more than 1,500 disaster workers have been deployed to Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi, according to an American Red Cross news release. Twenty-two shelters have been already been opened, and more than 50 support trailers are standing by with supplies.

Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or by email at rpfeil@mailtribune.com.

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