‘Iowa Nice is More Than Just a T-Shirt Slogan,’ Red Cross Says After Flood of New Volunteers

DES MOINES, Iowa  —  First Harvey hit. Then came Irma. Jose and Maria are now threatening. Mother Nature is bringing a fury of hurricanes, but also a steady stream of Iowa volunteers.

“Iowans are coming out to volunteer and help out,” the American Red Cross Iowa Region’s Senior Volunteer Specialist Tasmania “Taz” Stills said on Monday. “Iowa nice is more than just a t-shirt slogan.”

The numbers tell the story. The Red Cross usually has a list of about 600 Iowans who are signed up as volunteers for disaster relief, but since the hurricanes hit earlier this month, 400 additional people have reached out to the organization about volunteering.

The Red Cross requires a person to be available for a minimum two-week deployment, often on little notice. But lately, Iowans have been asking for more.

“The most common question is definitely, ‘What if I want to stay longer,'” Stills said of what he has heard from volunteers during training.

And what would she tell them? “We will work to make that happen,” Stills said. “We need it, especially in this unprecedented disaster response.”

The Red Cross held an all-day training session for more than  a dozen new volunteers at its Des Moines office on Monday. Volunteers could be deployed to a disaster site as soon as this week.