Several North Carolinians are headed to the Gulf Coast this weekend to provide disaster relief as the devastating Hurricane Ida hovers over Louisiana.
Ahead of the storm's arrival, Leonard "Big Country" Harrison and Rod Dail made their way to the Gulf Coast.
"As soon as the storm breaks, we're talking the eye is 15 miles from us, from that point forward we'll work about 18 hour days," Harrison said.
Both retired servicemen, Harrison and Dail are members of the US Veterans Corps, and every time disaster strikes, they answer the call.
"Once we had the honor of wearing the uniform and now we still consider it an honor to serve the citizens of this country," Dail said.
But they're not going in empty-handed, Dail and Harrison will be rescuing people trapped in the path of destruction but they couldn't do it without "Goliath," their 9,800-pound souped-up Ford F-250. In over 20 different hurricanes, they've made more than 1,000 rescues.
"I can go through five feet of water, no problem and I got my main man here and we're going to get people to evacuation centers," Harrison said.
Ready to go at a moment's notice and ready to save lives no matter the danger.
"To me, it's a way of giving back all I've been blessed with by living in this amazing country and having the freedoms and the opportunities I've had," Harrison said.
As of Saturday, Red Cross volunteers are on the ground in Baton Rouge, Louisiana preparing for Hurricane Ida's arrival and aftermath.
On Saturday, North Carolina's Red Cross joined the effort.
Volunteers: Daryl Steinbraker, Gene Pavone and Mike Thompson left Wilmington Saturday morning. They are some of the 30 volunteers from our state-assisting local volunteers.
Ida is expected to strengthen to a category 4 storm hitting parts of Lousiana and the Gulf Coast sometime Sunday.
"This is a state that was hit five times by tropical storms last year, and I remember my team going down there and driving for miles, saying they saw no telephone poles standing for miles," said Barry Porter with the American Red Cross. He is the acting regional CEO for eastern North Carolina and manages our local response.
Porter says volunteers will work up to 16 hours a day for weeks -- providing food and mental health resources, shelter, and safety. Which is an extra challenge with COVID-19.
"There is real concern about the congregation of people in a large setting, so we will be opening more shelters and having more physical distance, everyone coming to the shelter will be required to wear a mask, whether they are vaccinated or not, all of the PPE will be in place, the cleaning methods, the CDC requirements," said Porter.
Volunteers are not required to be vaccinated but Porter says it's strongly encouraged.
The American Red Cross is always looking for volunteers and donations. To join go to their website to learn more.