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East Tennessee Red Cross sends team to help with restoration and recovery efforts following deadly tornados

A team of six was deployed on Saturday evening, and about 50 more Knoxvillians are on standby to help out, as well.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Storms and tornadoes ravaged the midsection of America Saturday morning. For the people who live in the affected areas, their homes are leveled, memories buried and lives forever changed.

Sharon Hudson has worked with East Tennessee Red Cross for seven years. She has seen big natural disasters rip through small towns. She has experienced the chaotic scene when a family realizes their decades-old home is no longer there.

"It is very humbling. And you really feel blessed when you go back to your family. as you're working and going through the devastation, you realize that these families lost everything," Hudson said.

Hudson admitted that these storms caused some of the worst damage she's seen.

"Our thoughts are with all the families that had a devastating loss and the tragedy of the storms that went through the midsection of America," Hudson said.

People from across the United States are coming together in support, including volunteers with the East Tennessee Red Cross.

"Currently out of our chapter, we have six volunteers that deployed yesterday. We are building a list of over 50 that are on standby when the need arises, and the positions open so we can then deploy them," Hudson said.

The Red Cross in Memphis and Nashville also sent several volunteers, given that they are closer to the affected area.

Red Cross volunteers are trained to do damage assessment, provide mental health aid, prepare meals and provide relief to victims.

One of those jobs includes reconnecting families.

"The biggest thing and after going through something so devastating is just knowing that you're safe and your family is safe," Hudson said.

Even if everyone in the family is safe, it can still take weeks, months or years before they readjust to their new "normal." Many families don't have a home to return to, clothes to wear, or food in their pantry. These people have to start a whole new life.

"After such a traumatic experience, we just look for the recovery of people," Hudson said.

The Red Cross volunteers from East Tennessee will remain in the affected areas for two weeks.

The Red Cross is always looking for more volunteers, both in-person and via. online. You can sign up for those opportunities on their website.

If you want to support the current relief efforts, call 1-800-RED-CROSS or text "RED CROSS" to 90999 to give a $10 donation.

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