“Why do I leave home to volunteer with the Red Cross?”

It might seem hard to believe, but it was just over one month ago that Hurricane Irene slammed into the East Coast, followed a week later by the torrential rains of Tropical Storm Lee. Both storms brought flooding and destruction in their wake, disrupting the lives and homes of people in the south and northeast. The Red Cross jumped into action during the disasters — offering warm meals, a safe place to stay and emotional support to those who lost everything in the flood waters.

Even today, the Red Cross continues its relief operations, sheltering more than 180 people who are still unable to return to their homes and distributing vital clean-up supplies to help people purge their mud-filled homes.

The driving force behind the relief efforts have been the more than 8,500 Red Cross volunteers who came from across the nation to lend a hand. Among that volunteer task force was Sharon Panuskas, a Red Cross volunteer from Port St. Lucie, FL (pictured through the window), who spent a few weeks at the Red Cross Disaster Relief Operation in Rhode Island following Hurricane Irene.   She recently sent us this picture update from the field, with this short note:

This shows you why I leave home and travel to diaster areas for 2 to 3 weeks. This assisted living home [we visited] only had enough gas in their generator to power the elevator. My partner Pat and I fed 76 people who had not had a hot meal in five days. That is why I do what I do.”

Sharon Panuskas distributes a warm meal, hot coffee and snacks from the window of a mobile feeding vehicle to people affected by Hurricane Irene. Photo by Lynn Cook, American Red Cross volunteer

All of the assistance provided by the Red Cross is made possible by the generous support of those who donate their time, talent and treasure. We thank all of our volunteers like Sharon, who help us carry out the humanitarian mission of the American Red Cross.

If you’re curious what we mean by “Red Cross assistance” take a look at the numbers below (to-date):

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