Red Cross sends volunteers, trucks to help prepare for Hurricane Irene

Four Red Cross volunteers from Wichita and seven emergency response vehicles from Kansas headed for the East Coast today to help prepare for Hurricane Irene.

The volunteers will go to a staging area in Middleton, N.Y., and will be parts of teams that will take food and comfort kits to people affected by the storm, the Mid-Way Kansas Chapter of the Red Cross said.

Hundreds of thousands of tourists and residents in North Carolina have been ordered to evacuate in preparation for the hurricane, which is become the most powerful to hit the East Coast in seven years.

The evacuation area includes the barrier island chain known as the Outer Banks, which is expected to take the brunt of Irene's first hit over the weekend.

The Red Cross is seeking more volunteers to respond to disasters across the country.

Starting Sept. 6, potential volunteers can take free classes to learn how respond to situations from house fires to hurricanes, the Red Cross said. The website is, or call 316-219-4000.