By Christina Hager

BOSTON (CBS) – Dozens of local volunteers are helping with storm relief efforts on the Gulf Coast. Even though they’ve done it many times before, they say it’s a little different during a pandemic.

Craig Bodamer, who’s a retired firefighter from Cape Cod, is already in Houston. He said volunteers are wearing masks and social distancing. (WBZ-TV)

“Our operations call for us to work in very close quarters,” said Thomas Gatzunis, with FEMA’s Massachusetts Urban Search and Rescue Taskforce 1. The Beverly-based group has 14 vehicles expected to arrive Friday. “Heavy rescue or water operations, search operations, technical search operations. We have two canines with us,” said Gatzunis.

The American Red Cross has deployed 22 people from Massachusetts to help with disasters across the country, including Louisiana and Texas. Some volunteers are even working virtually, offering mental health counseling online and helping people file claims.

Craig Bodamer, who’s a retired firefighter from Cape Cod, spoke with WBZ from his hotel room in Houston. “It’s a whole different thing with COVID-19.” He was waiting to find out where he’ll be needed to set up and run shelters. “Everyone in the shelter, Red Cross people, the clients there, they’ll all be wearing masks and social distancing.”

Christina Hager

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