Local rescue crews deploy for Hurricane Isaac

As millions of people in the path of hurricane Isaac brace themselves for the wrath of the storm, rescue crews here in northern Michigan are preparing to step up to the plate.

Many parts of southern Louisiana are under mandatory evacuations and while those residents try their best to get out of the danger zone, several local people are getting ready to head down.

Coordinator of Emergency Services for the American Red Cross of Northwest Michigan Kit Hinz says, "You can hear a lot about the comparison of Isaac coming in the day of Katrina hit 7 years ago. It gives me the chills, just talking about it, it is really scary..."

But even with immense danger looming in southern Louisiana, Red Cross disaster volunteers are stepping up to the occasion and answering the call of duty.

Hinz says, "Two volunteers have already been sent down, one went to Florida because it was still heading toward Florida when we sent him out, someone went out yesterday to Alabama. She's already moving to Louisiana to be prepared. And now, two more volunteers are going out."

Joe Sarafa is one of those disaster volunteers. He leaves Wednesday and is eager to get to work.

Red Cross Disaster Volunteer Joe Sarafa says, "I believe in the Red Cross mission. I really want to help people when they need it because when we need it, they'll come and help us..."

These volunteers are highly experienced in all areas of service but on this mission, their focus will be on sheltering. Sarafa explains, "Sheltering of course is making sure everyone is comfortable where they're sleeping, setting up showers and bathrooms, places to wash their clothes and mass feeding which involves three meals a day and snacks for very large group of people."

Also waiting in the wings to help are crews from Coast Guard Air Station Traverse City. Coast Guard Air Station Traverse City Commander Chris Chase says, "Our motto is â??Semper Paratusâ?? which means always ready, so we are ready to respond if the need arises..."

As of right now, they have not been asked to deploy a crew, but depending on how much this storm strengthens they may be called to work. Commander Chase says, "If we need to respond, we'll probably send one of the helicopters -- with a crew of four: two pilots, a flight mechanic and a rescue swimmer."

But Commander Chris Chase is hoping it doesn't come down to that because he knows all to well the devastation these tropical monsters are capable of. Commander Chase says, "Iâ??ve seen what hurricanes can do. During hurricane Katrina, I saw people with water up to their roof lines, sitting on the roof just waiting for a helicopter to come pick them up. We just hope that doesn't happen again..."

If necessary, the Red Cross and Coast Guard Air Station Traverse City are prepared to send even more volunteers and crews down to the south to help out.