Area Volunteers Headed South Ahead of Hurricane Matthew

WILKES-BARRE -- Some people from our area are heading down south to help with emergency relief as Hurricane Matthew approaches.

It's more than 1,000 miles away from Wilkes-Barre, but Hurricane Matthew could leave so much destruction behind in the south that the American Red Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania is sending volunteers to help.

Bob Abbott of Taylor and Kevin Beale of Mountain Top loaded their luggage into an American Red Cross van in Wilkes-Barre.

The two-person crew is now traveling to South Carolina to help with emergency relief efforts. It's more than a 12-hour drive, but they're not sure exactly where they will be stopping. That's because forecasters with the Red Cross will have a better idea of Hurricane Matthew's path later in the day and what damage it might do. All that will determine where the pair goes.

"It makes me feel great to help other people in need," said Abbott.

They'll be delivering food, blankets, brooms, and other supplies. They could also be helping to comfort people who are missing loved ones.

"90 percent of the Red Cross people that are in a community after a disaster like this are volunteers, they're not paid staff. They're doing this out of the kindness of their hearts," said Dave Skutnik, Red Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania.

For some of the volunteers, this isn't their first emergency trip. One of them traveled to Louisiana just a few weeks ago to help with relief there after major flooding.

"There was a lot of hardship down there, and you got to feel bad for the people," said Beale.

Both men have been on several similar trips, but say going out to help people, some who lost everything, is never easy work.

"You're living in the moment, and I think you're living with the people in the same moment," said Beale. "They're living day to day and at that point in time when we're down there, we're living day to day with them."

Earlier in the morning, three other volunteers also left from Stroudsburg to assist with emergency relief efforts down south. Two of them were from Pike County, one from Wayne County. They're expected to be there for the next several days.

How To Help:

Help people affected by disasters like hurricanes, floods, and countless other crises by making a donation to the Red Cross Disaster Relief. Your gift enables the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help people recover from disasters big and small across the United States. Visit, call 1-800-RED CROSS or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

Even before the threat of Hurricane Matthew, there was an urgent need for donors of all blood types, especially type O. Appointments can be made to donate blood or platelets by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).