New Red Cross 'jump teams' to help with Irma relief

CINCINNATI -- As residents and community leaders in Florida go about assessing the damage from Hurricane Irma, the Red Cross is ready to launch a new initiative this week.

Red Cross agencies from around the country will be sending what they are calling "jump teams" to Florida. Each team is comprised of one Red Cross professional and four experienced volunteers who will jump from area to area as needed.

WCPO - 9 On Your Side is hosting a phone bank to benefit victims of Hurricane Irma Monday and Tuesday nights.

WCPO's Taking Action for Florida phone bank will be held Monday and Tuesday between 4 and 8 p.m. Viewers can call 513-719-4929 to donate. Proceeds will benefit the American Red Cross and its effort to help the victims.

To donate right now, visit redcross.org, call 1-800-RED CROSS or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

Trish Smitson of the Cincinnati-Dayton Red Cross said they'll be sending down one of the teams.

"This is the first time I am aware we have followed this kind of a pattern," Smitson said. "I think part of it is just recognizing that there are unique situations that arise in a disaster and you really need seasoned-type volunteers that can address the situations."

There are 60 local Red Cross locations around the country, but only 40 are contributing teams. 

"The reason it's 40 is there are about 20 regions that are impacted by Harvey and Irma, so we're going to ask those areas that don't have direct impact of these recent hurricanes and ask them to assemble the teams so you've got 40 teams of five going into an area that really needs that kind of experienced volunteer and disaster response," Smitson said.

The jump team from the Cincinnati-Dayton region is leaving this week, potentially as early as Tuesday. Where they will deploy isn't yet known.

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