Volunteers from the American Red Cross Serving King & Kitsap Counties headed to Alabama and Arkansas yesterday, the first of a wave...

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Volunteers from the American Red Cross Serving King & Kitsap Counties headed to Alabama and Arkansas yesterday, the first of a wave of local Red Cross helpers who will provide food and other aid to people affected by Hurricane Katrina.

The Puget Sound-area contingent was expected to grow to more than 20 by today, said spokesman Mike Eagan.

Two volunteers left Renton yesterday for Little Rock, Ark., driving an emergency-response truck that can feed hundreds of people a day.

Four others flew to Montgomery, Ala., one of the Red Cross’s staging areas outside the hurricane zone.

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Others are expected to follow.

“This is ramping up fast to be a very big response,” Eagan said. “This kind of disaster could go on for weeks and weeks.”

The Red Cross is accepting donations of cash or food but asks donors not to send clothing or other goods that need to be cleaned and processed.

“The most important thing is money,” Eagan said.

Donate by calling 1-800-HELP-NOW, by visiting www.seattleredcross.org, or writing to The American Red Cross of King & Kitsap Counties, P.O. Box 3097, Seattle 98114-3097.

Other ways to give:

• Catholic Charities USA: Call 800-919-9338, or online at www.catholiccharitiesusa.org.

• Salvation Army: Call 800-SAL-ARMY, or online at www.salvationarmyusa.org.

• United Methodist Committee on Relief: Call 800-554-8583, or online at http://gbgm-umc.org/umcor.

For a complete list of charitable agencies recommended by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, visit www. fema.gov/ rrr/help2.shtm.