SAN DIEGO (NEWS 8) – Thirteen San Diego Red Cross volunteers are in North Carolina ready to help when Hurricane Florence hits.

By Thursday, strong winds and heavy rain were already moving in as Hurricane Florence began unleashing its power on the Carolinas.

“We have sent them [the volunteers] to Virginia, North Carolina. They are also available to shift to South Carolina if needed,” CEO Sean Mahoney with the Red Cross.

Mahoney said arriving in the East Coast ahead of time was crucial. "We want to make sure that we're leaning forward in any kind of emergency like this. It is absolutely crucial that we have the people there beforehand because transportation can be disrupted as well so we want to get our teams out there and make sure they're ready to provide support right away.”

The San Diego volunteers will join 1,500 other volunteers and they’ll have access to 80 vehicles and 120 trailers. “If they are a Red Cross volunteer, they have to be willing to do anything to help. We say, ‘sleeves up, hearts open to all,’” said Mahoney.

Volunteer duties will include making meals, moving supplies and setting up shelters. It is estimated that 2.6 million people are in Florence’s path – many of whom have already left their homes.

“Last night alone, the Red Cross and other community partners housed 6,700 people in shelters and we are preparing to house up to 100,000 people,” said Mahoney.

San Diego’s team could be gone for as long as three weeks.

To help, the public can donate money by either texting Florence to 90999, or calling 1-800-Red-Cross. Another options is to also donate blood.