Help needed in East Tennessee to take care of Gustav's Gulf evacuees

KNOXVILLE, Tenn (WVLT) -- With hundreds of evacuees making East Tennessee their temporary home, several organizations are trying to care for them, and that means mouths to feed, people to clothe, and even pets to tend to.

Several organizations helping the people fleeing from the gulf say they learned their lesson after Hurricane Katrina hit three years ago, now they are working together to collect donations and make sure the evacuees get what they need.

Before the boxes of donations can be shipped off, items have to be collected. From toiletries to baby care, they're all necessities for people trying to survive Hurricane Gustav.

First Baptist Church pastor Dr. Bill Shiell says, “We have a team of about 100 different volunteers from the church, the community, other folks who have called in and said how can we help?"

Volunteers at the First Baptist Church in downtown Knoxville are organizing all the donations as they come in so they can make sure people get exactly what they need.

Dr. Shiell says, “How bad the disaster is, we want to make sure our response measures up to the magnanimity of the disaster, so we want to be as generous and as quick and nimble as possible."

The church is asking for diapers, baby wipes, baby food, adult disposable undergarments, adult underwear, wash cloths and towels, full-size hygiene products, and household cleaning supplies.

Several volunteer groups are working together through the red cross to make sure the right items are collected by each organization.

Knox Area Red Cross spokesman Chris Davis says, “We make sure they have shelter, we make sure they have food, we make sure if they have emergency medical needs, if for some reason they bring pets; these are the things that weren't front of mind 3 years ago and they are now."

But if you can't donate financially, you may be able to donate physically.

Davis says, “Number one, we need time. If people can volunteer, if they can give some time."

Dr. Shiell says, “Also the mental, emotional, spiritual kinds of needs, all of these people are in incredible trauma so our prayers are going to them."

You can call the Knox Area Red Cross at 584-2999 to not only get help, but to donate. You can drop off items, but cash, and can be put to use much quicker. No matter what you have to offer, the Red Cross will be able to help you figure out how you can help.

Volunteers from First Baptist Church will drive the donated items down to the Gulf region themselves after the storm calms down.

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