(WJHL) – Prior to Hurricane Laura’s landfall, volunteers from all across the United States from the American Red Cross were deployed to aid in recovery efforts.
On Saturday, three volunteers from East Tennessee also deployed with two sent to shelters in Louisiana and another sent to Texas to aid with recovery there.
Deborah Robinette lives in Hawkins County and recently retired. She now volunteers with the American Red Cross. This is her second deployment to assist with recovery efforts and she was sent to Alexandria, Louisiana to help with shelter operations.
Robinette told News Channel 11 she works a 12-hour night shift and weathered the storm while working at the shelter.
“Things shook, the wind blew, trees were blowing over, it was just scary and it went on for a couple of hours actually that we received the rain and things like that,” said Robinette.
She said the aftermath where she was stationed consisted of debris and downed trees. While the damage wasn’t as bad as anticipated where she is, they’re still busy with recovery efforts and are continuing to help families in the shelters.
“A big part of our mission is helping others. It really doesn’t matter where those people are. It only matters that they need help and we are willing to go out there and help them, said Disaster Program Manager, Dawn Day.
Day oversees volunteer operations and makes sure everyone is trained and ready for when they are deployed. While there are currently only three volunteers down south, she said it is very likely more will deploy soon. However, there are steps that need to be taken before that happens.
“It’s tracking to come our way now so we’re looking at some potential flooding in middle Tennessee so what they do is they have us wait until after the damage so we know that Tennessee is safe and we’re good to go support,” said NE TN American Red Cross Exec. Director, Heather Carbajal.
Robinette said her departure date is set for September 4th, but that’s subject to change depending on the need. For her, she said it’s been a life-changing experience, and she encourages anyone who can to volunteer.
“It’s much different to hear about something and actually see how it affects people’s lives,” said Robinette.
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