MINNESOTA, USA — Red Cross volunteer John Decker is dealing with a disaster within a disaster.
He lives in International Falls Minnesota and has responded to over a dozen hurricanes in his career, but he says with the pandemic, Hurricane Laura will likely be the most difficult to manage.
"We used to have 500, 1,000, or 10,000 person shelters and now we're doing 50 max," Decker says.
“That is a huge challenge.”
Decker is one of 18 Red Cross volunteers from Minnesota and the Dakotas who are scheduled to help with the relief efforts.
A Red Cross spokesperson says Decker and one other volunteer are down south already and more than a dozen others will likely fly out later this week once the storm clears.
Decker landed in Houston Texas Wednesday afternoon before the storm made landfall.
He says the Red Cross will likely move him closer to Louisiana where most the damage is being reported.
"Luckily it moved fast enough so we're not getting that rain and horrendous flooding that typically follows a hurricane," Decker says.
“It could have been much worse.”
The governors from both Texas and Louisiana say the damage so far has been less severe than they originally expected.
Hurricane Laura made landfall early Thursday morning as a category four hurricane with wind speeds of up to 150 miles an hour.
Weather officials downgraded the hurricane to a tropical storm a few hours later.
2020 has been a tough year for hurricanes.
Laura is the 7th to make landfall on the U.S. so far this year.
Decker says it's tough at times being around so much destruction, but he says it's also rewarding to be there to help people when they need it the most.
"It's one of those love/hate jobs. I love to do it, but I hate that it happens to people and that they need us, but we'll be there."