Volunteers Return from Hurricane Relief Effort

by Kelly Choate on September 23, 2011 at 7:15 am

Volunteers who took part in the Hurricane Irene relief effort are back in Muskingum County.

Weeks after Hurricane Irene devastated the east coast, communities are still cleaning up the mess left behind.

"A lot of people that were in our shelter that had gone home had to come back because they were getting flooded again," said Disaster Action Team member Peggy Joseph.

Joseph is one of three Red Cross volunteers who traveled from Muskingum County to New Jersey, New York and other areas hit hard by the hurricane. The last time this chapter sent three volunteers to a disaster – Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

"It really depends on the nature of the disaster and the kind of specialties that they need," said Disaster Services Instructor Lin Avendano.

Almost every speciality was needed to combat this storm.

"We set up shelters, we tore down shelters, we fed clients," said Joseph. "I personally did registration and feeding."

Joseph said the destruction was unimaginable – water rushed down roadways and swallowed up homes.

"Most of the stories were just people having to evacuate from their house with nothing but the clothes on their back," said Joseph. "The water came up so fast."

Working so closely with victims of the disaster, Avendano said volunteers are greatly appreciated for the work they do.

"I was eating at a Holiday Inn, one of the few times I got to eat outside, and the chef was just leaving," said Avendano. "He said we want to thank you for all the hard work you’ve been doing – I was one of the families that was in your shelter."

For Joseph, it just feels right to help.

"It’s a good feeling," said Joseph. "Sometimes it’s really sad too, because you can’t do more."

Avendano said it will take months of time and billions of dollars for these communities to fully heal.