By Andrew Schmertz
Red Cross volunteer Julie Daigle knows what the people of Louisiana are facing.
While she isn’t headed to the floods this time, she did spend three weeks working in a shelter and serving food during Hurricane Katrina and the aftermath.
Originally from Maine, Daigle now lives in Somerset.
“Your heart just goes out to the families in Louisiana. Where I grew up we use to get flooded every spring thaw and you kind of know the water is coming and people are outside their homes and they’re going to have a tremendous mess to deal with when they get back,” she said.
The Red Cross says the flooding is now the worst disaster in the U.S. since Hurricane Sandy and Katrina. Forty thousand homes are estimated to have been severely damaged and tens of thousands have been rescued from flooded parishes by the Coast Guard.
And volunteers from New Jersey are chipping in to help.
The Red Cross says it has more than 5,000 volunteers in this state. Fifteen right now are in Louisiana and that number is expected to grow over the next couple of weeks. But it’s not just Louisiana where New Jersyans are going. The Red Cross has people in California and Maryland for disasters there.
Diane Concannon is the director of communications.
“I’ve been with the Red Cross for 12 years so since the tsunami. That occurred two weeks when I had just started with the Red Cross and I have to tell you, I have been amazed at the amount of people who come forward in New Jersey and say they want to help. They’ll donate financially, sign up to volunteer,” she said.
While being a volunteer appeals to many, the Red Cross says right now they need something more: money.
That’s because it takes weeks to train new volunteers. So sign up now, for the next disaster.
“If you’re interested at all in volunteering, do it now. This will give us the time to give you the proper training in whatever area of disaster relief that you’re interested in,” Concannon said.
Volunteers say you get back as much as you give.
“Bringing hot food and water to people in communities where people don’t have access to food and water, it was almost like being an elf on Christmas, if you will. People are very grateful for the Red Cross and it gives them one less thing to worry about. They don’t have to worry about where their food is coming from. They can figure out the next step for their family,” Daigle said.