Getting Ready

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Frances is not in sight, but local response groups are thinking ahead before they even know where she'll go.

Robert Pearce, the executive director of the Central Panhandle Chapter of the American Red Cross, says they are preparing for this storm, one that could possibly head this way next.

"We are faced with an interesting situation. We're going to be sheltering people who are fleeing from the east coast of Florida and they may be coming into harm's way here."

Shelters lining I-10 will open soon for those from south Florida and possibly the Panhandle. The American Red Cross relies on volunteers and financial assistance to provide relief to disaster victims.

"What we do is we give them the financial assistance to do business with the local business in the community. That way they can purchase exactly the things they need at that moment to get over the hump and really start to put their lives back together."

Whatever the storm decides to do in Florida, this local chapter will be ready to send out volunteers or buckle down in the Panhandle. The Red Cross is ready for Frances and will continue to relieve those hit hardest by Charley, and then wait again for the next one to hit.

Anyone interested in volunteering for the Red Cross can attend their “friend-raiser" on Friday at noon. The informational lunch will be held at the chapter office at 430 East 15th Street in Panama City. You can also make financial donations at the office for storm victims.