Red Cross volunteer

Searcy resident Isabell Marquis prepares meals in a suburb just outside Baton Rouge, La., an area hard hit by Hurricane Ida. Marquis has volunteered with the American Red Cross for more than eight years and said she has responded to more than 30 disasters.

JONESBORO — American Red Cross volunteer Isabell Marquis said when her phone rings and it is the American Red Cross, she is ready to go at a moment’s notice.

She currently is located in Prairieville, La., where she is helping pass out food and assisting those in need to find safe shelter.

“When I got down here, I found too much need, too much destroyed, too much sadness and too many people who lost everything they owned,” said Marquis, a resident of Searcy.

Hurricane Ida hit on Aug. 29, 16 years after Hurricane Katrina hit the area. Marquis said even now, there are many areas without power.

“There are places where the floodwaters have receded, but now crews are trying to clean up all the debris,” she said.

Marquis said she used to be a firefighter, and she always enjoyed helping people.

“It wasn’t for the recognition,” she said. “Why not get up and help someone in need instead of just sitting in front of the television.”

Marquis said she recently remarried and her husband is a former member of the U.S. Air Force. “He understands and he backs me up,” she said.

“When that phone rings, I don’t hesitate, I go where I am needed,” she said.

Marquis said one of the most gratifying experiences she has had as a volunteer is the encouragement she receives from those she is trying to help.

“They are so thankful and tell us they are so blessed for us to be here helping them,” she said. “They are the ones who give us the encouragement.”

Marquis said she will be in the Baton Rouge subdivision for a bit longer.

“We are typically deployed for 14 days,” she said.

Right now there are so many disaster areas across the United States volunteers are stretched thin, Marquis said.

“They are sending people to New York at the moment,” she said of other disaster areas related to Hurricane Ida.

John Brimley recently said two teams were deployed from Arkansas and Missouri to help with the aftermath of Hurricane Ida.

“We have seven people deployed from Arkansas who are helping to provide disaster relief,” he said.

“Most of them are just driver responders who are driving around and distributing food,” he said.

“They are all located in New Orleans, Baton Rouge and all across the state of Louisiana,” he said.

Brimley said the American Red Cross will stay at least until power is restored to most of those areas. At this point, the organization has been hard-pressed to find volunteers.

“We had almost 50 to 60 volunteers who have been deployed to the California wildfires, Hurricane Ida, the flooding in Tennessee and other places nationwide.

“As many volunteers as you see for the American Red Cross, we can always use more. The need never goes away,” Brimley said.

“Since July 1, we have assisted over 1,700 people in house fires,” he said.

As far as volunteers like Marquis, Brimley said she is simply a remarkable person.

“You would be hard-pressed to find any volunteer who has the sentiment that Isabell shows,” he said.