South Carolina sends volunteers, supplies to help in Katrina disaster relief

(Columbia) August 29,2005 - While people along the Gulf Coast are fleeing from Hurricane Katrina, disaster relief from South Carolina is headed right into the eye of the storm.

Although a far cry from "Posturepedic," Charlotte Foster says the cots that the Red Cross is taking have benefits, "These cots are easily set up. We just position them inside a shelter."

They will be a welcome sight for anyone who fled Katrina. They're just part of the relief supplies being sent to the Gulf by the American Red Cross, according to Scott Salemme, "Our chapter is ready. We have general supplies as well as human resources to respond."

The Midlands Red Cross Chapter is also sending at least eight people. Salemme says, "This will definitely be a hardship assignment, which means they'll be working seven days a week, 12-14-16 hour days. The living conditions are just like the folks that they're going to be helping in the shelters."

For more information on volunteering or donations, visit the Red Cross website.

The South Carolina National Guard is staying put, at least for now. A spokesman saying as of this afternoon, the guard has not been asked to send units to the stricken area.

Also on standby, disaster relief teams from the state Baptist Convention. The convention sent dozens of volunteers to Florida after last year's hurricanes. A coordinator says 49 units of as many as 20 people each are ready to go when called.

SCE&G had already sent contract crews to repair electrical lines after Katrina smacked the Miami area. Those 137 workers will now be shifted to the Gulf Coast, according to Eric Boomhower, "There are a number of utilities throughout the southeast that when they're in a time of need like we're seeing down in the Louisiana area right now, other utilities can reach out and lend a hand. We've benefitted from that relationship in the past and now we want to be able to return that favor."

SCE&G is ready to send another 80 of its own workers when it becomes clear where they are needed.

Mid-Carolina Cooperative is also sending help. At least 81 electric cooperative line workers from South Carolina are going to southern Alabama to help repair damage.

Reported by Tamara King & Jack Kuenzie

Updated 3:45pm by Kaela Harmon