Local volunteers share their experiences of CA wildfires and hurricanes


Over the last year, our country has seen some of the worst natural disasters on record, and the American Red Cross has responded to each and every one of them.

Last year’s California wildfires and this year’s Hurricanes Florence and Michael left those affected areas destroyed and took the lives of many people.

Three local Red Cross volunteers were deployed: Gwen Thornburg, Karen Grammar, and Jesse Hott.

Thornburg, a recovery services caseworker, was deployed to last year’s California Wildfires and Hurricane Florence. “It’s just unimaginable to have their life just turned literally upside down.”

She also focused on helping the victims medically and emotionally. “The role of the nurse within the Red Cross is so important because we’re almost like in the center.”

Grammar was deployed to Hurricane Harvey, the CA wildfires, and Hurricane Michael where she worked as a caseworker. “We have helped people get into housing, apartments, furniture, clothing, food, boxes of food, etc.”

Hott, the Disaster Program Specialist at Wheeling’s Red Cross office, was also deployed to Hurricane Michael where he worked on external affairs. “Basically anything that was requested of us got filtered through and that supply of resources was sent to where it was needed.”

Not only could the volunteers make light out of a bad situation, working together gave everyone a positive attitude. “Seeing the way people actually come together is always the most amazing thing that I get to see,” says Hott.

Plus all the volunteers say they come back a changed person for the better. “It’s just a wonderful feeling. I love the work, I really do. I really enjoy doing this,” says Grammar.

The American Red Cross says every 8 minutes someone is affected by a disaster.

You can donate to the Red Cross through their website by clicking here, by mail to 193 29th street Wheeling, WV 26003, or by calling 304-488-5279.

You can also donate through the United Way agency.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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