The American Red Cross of Santa Monica sent three local volunteers to Texas and Louisiana earlier this monht to do relief work for evacuees from New Orleans and victims of Hurricane Gustav.

The volunteers were Cory Russell, Janet Chang and Heather Plylte. They flew to Louisiana on Friday, August 28th, and were originally assigned to set up and manage an evacuee shelter in Franklinton, Louisiana, approximately 70 miles northeast of New Orleans.

Russell was reassigned as a damage assessment specialist where he worked with a team of volunteers to assess water and wind damage and emergency needs for the Red Cross.

Chang, also an AmeriCorps volunteer, was assigned to the Santa Monica Red Cross, working at the staging area in Dallas.

Plylte was assigned to work in Texas.

All three volunteers responded to a last-minute pre-deployment call for experienced shelter management and disaster persons, which came in Thursday, August 28th.

As Hurricanes Hannah, Ike and Josephine made their way toward the United States, Gustav volunteers were also on standby to be redeployed to new potential disaster areas.

Disaster classes for new volunteers are now being offered. These courses are required for new volunteers who wish to deploy to a disaster area with the American Red Cross.

For information or to register for these courses, call (310) 394-3773 during business hours.

In addition, the Santa Monica chapter is taking donations to help pay for the relief effort. The American Red Cross estimates that its part of the relief effort for Gustav alone to be in excess of $25 million to $30 million.

Contributions to the Disaster Relief Fund may be sent to the Santa Monica Red Cross chapter at 1450 11th St., Santa Monica 90401; by phoning (310) 394-3773, (800) 733-2757 (800-RED CROSS), or (800) 257-7575 (Spanish).

Internet users can make a secure online contribution at or