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Volunteers travel into disaster zone

 

JENNA-LEY HARRISON

Staff Writer

 

Denver resident and local American Red Cross volunteer Ray Roedel packed his bags and headed for the Northeast on Tuesday in an effort to provide disaster relief for individuals who’ve suffered from the devastating effects of Hurricane Sandy.

Because the deadly storm has forced the cancellation of numerous flights across the nation this week, Roedel, who volunteers with Lincoln County chapter of the Red Cross, and three other volunteers with the Gaston County chapter, traveled by van to their storm-damaged destination, prepared to brave the snow and flood waters that might lie along their route.

A total of six Lincoln County volunteers are assisting with disaster relief related to Sandy, according to Red Cross Program Support Specialist Louann Freshour.

Volunteers are currently in New York and West Virginia, and Roedel and his group are slated to assist at a location in either New York or New Jersey but were not yet aware of their exact destination when the Times-News spoke with him Tuesday morning.

Most volunteer groups will be working in mass care areas constructing shelters for those without homes and power, Freshour said.

Roedel will be serving as a shelter supervisor but is also prepared to tackle any other duties that may come his way.

“You may do anything you’re qualified to do,” he said. Since Roedel is also trained in bulk distribution, he could possibly be stationed in a warehouse or asked to drive a truck.

“You have to be flexible,” he said.

Roedel first signed up to volunteer with the nonprofit organization in September 2005 after Hurricane Katrina struck, but he wasn’t actually called for an assignment until later that month regarding storm damage from Hurricane Rita.

In addition, he traveled last fall to locations across Massachusetts and Connecticut to provide disaster relief from Hurricane Irene.

Roedel believes volunteering with the Red Cross over the last several years has changed his life and for the better.

“It gets you way out of your comfort zone,” he said, “which everyone ought to do so they know how good they have it.”

Local volunteers will be up North for a maximum of three weeks, Freshour said.

Throughout the year, the Red Cross sends volunteers to numerous disasters across the country.

“Whenever there is a need, no matter what type of disaster there is,” Freshour said. “We recruit the volunteers and already have them in the system so they are trained and ready to go (when needed).”

 

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