FLORENCE — Local American Red Cross officials and volunteers are prepared to head to Oklahoma when they are needed.

Linda Johnson, emergency service specialist for the Red Cross of North Alabama, said she started receiving emails to get ready for deployment Monday after the tornado hit.

“They were trying to line up recruits from area states to know how many volunteers they might have coming in,” Johnson said. “Tuesday, we got notified that our emergency response vehicle will be needed, and that one will come from the Florence area.”

She said a driver for the emergency vehicle and a rider are on standby.

“We’re just waiting on the word from the national headquarters,” Johnson said.

The emergency response vehicle is used to help feed those left homeless.

North Alabama has been assigned two people who left Tuesday, a mental health worker and a Red Cross coordinator, Johnson said.

“As long as it is still in recovery mode, we usually are waiting,” said Elizabeth Moore, executive director of the Florence chapter of the American Red Cross. “But we have 27 volunteers who are trained and could be deployed whenever they are needed.”

Johnson said she believes Red Cross officials in Oklahoma are getting shelters open for the thousands of people left homeless.

“I think we have four to five open, but there are so many people left homeless so I don’t know how many shelters they will need,” Johnson said. “Once the shelters are open, the volunteers will be needed.” Johnson said emergency disaster supplies are kept at every Red Cross chapter for local emergencies as well as enough supplies to be shipped to emergency areas if needed.

Moore said local volunteers were sent to New Jersey earlier this year to help with flooding.

Tom Smith can be reached at 256-740-5757 or tom.smith@TimesDaily.com.

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