Four American Red Cross disaster volunteers from Campbell, Gilroy and Los Gatos have joined about 40 others recently deployed to North Carolina and New England in the wake of the estimated $7 billion devastation left behind by Hurricane Irene.
From Campbell, Ann Herosy has been sent to New York City to help feed people at homeless shelters inhabited by residents whose homes experienced significant flooding and power outages.
From Gilroy, Aggie Ternasky has been sent to New England to help with disaster mental health. She's been recognized by the city of Gilroy as volunteer of the year.
From Los Gatos, George Smith and Duino Giordano, are helping in New York City and New England, respectively, with sheltering and security sheltering services, according to Cynthia Shaw, a spokeswoman for the Silicon Valley American Red Cross chapter.
"These volunteers are important, because we need the mass power to offer the services we provide during disaster operations across 14 states serving thousands of people," Shaw said. "It's critical that we have these volunteers at the local level so they become more experienced and can help us locally when disaster strikes."
The local volunteers, who join others from the American Red Cross in the San Francisco Bay Area and Central Coast region, have put their lives on hold for the next two or three weeks to help with disaster relief efforts, Shaw added. They have also served before in other disasters, she said.
Silicon Valley in general, Shaw said, tends to have a significantly higher number of volunteers sent out than other counties in the north.
The four local volunteers are among 11 from Santa Clara County, Shaw added. They're not paid to serve, receive only meals and transportation and stay at their designated Red Cross staff shelters.
Since Friday, the Red Cross has provided more than 53,000 overnight shelter stays. It has also arranged to procure approximately 1.3 million meals through various vendors in North Carolina, Maryland, Virginia, New Jersey and New York. As of Tuesday, 42 people have died in a dozen states as a result of the hurricane, according to government officials.
Shaw reminded the public to help, too, by doing the following:
Donate Blood, Platelet
Since Hurricane Irene began its path along the East Coast, the storm has forced the cancellation of more than 75 Red Cross blood drives, resulting in the shortfall of more than 2,730 blood donations. It is expected that additional blood drives will be postponed throughout the week as power outages and flooding continue.
Individuals who are 17 (or 16 with parental permission in some states), meet height and weight requirements (110 pounds or more, depending on their height) and are generally in good health may be eligible to donate blood. To schedule an appointment, call 800-RED CROSS or go online to redcrossblood.org. Eligible platelet donors should call 888-881-0988. The Red Cross anticipates unusually high call volume during the next several days from those directly affected by the hurricane, and you may experience long delays.
All Red Cross disaster assistance is free. The organization relies on the donations of the American people to support its work. Donations can be made by visiting redcross.org, calling 800-RED CROSS, texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation, or sending contributions to local Red Cross chapter or to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, D.C. 20013.
Disasters can strike at any time so Red Cross officials urge the public to prepare by having a disaster kit and other emergency supplies ready.
Become a Volunteer
American Red Cross volunteers undergo special training to provide them with the ability to safely and efficiently provide relief services. If you are interested in becoming a Red Cross volunteer to help in future disasters, you may fill out a volunteer application online at redcross.org or at your local chapter’s website.