September 22, 2005
As Hurricane Rita prepares to come ashore, hurricane relief efforts are continuing on the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina. So far, 138,000 Red Cross workers from all fifty states have responded and more are signing on each day. The Red Cross is sending volunteers as fast as they can train them.
American Red Cross training videos are seeing overtime. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, many people want to volunteer. Our local area has seen 300 new volunteers since Katrina. Military retiree Susan Dykes is one of them.
“Because of the catastrophe, some of the training they are trying to get it completed as fast as possible,” Dykes said.
Days after watching coverage of Hurricane Katrina, Susan Dykes signed up to make a difference. After a quick crash course in disaster assistance, she’s now headed for the Gulf Coast for three weeks. She understands it will be quite different.
“The woman we were talking to yesterday she said you sort of loose all your dignity for a while you just do what you have to do,” Dykes said.
Dr. Greg Smith, psychiatrist and medical director at Aiken-Barnwell Mental Health, just returned from the Gulf Coast volunteering.
“Some of the other areas where the eye actually hit it was like a bomb had dropped,” Smith said.
“I’ve tired my darndest to prepare myself for the worst and I’ve talked to some people who have been there,” Dykes said.
Dr. Smith has experienced the devastation and sleeping on cots, no electricity, and no running water.
“Cars were stacked up 20-30 on the side of the road where the storm surge had pushed them,” Smith said.
“From what I understand, it’s something you can’t imagine,” Dykes said.
But these images continue to draw volunteers.
“God’s bless me with many things. He’s given me a house and he’s given me a car, but those people lost everything,” Dykes said.
There is a Red Cross training course going on at Augusta State University this Saturday from 9-4. Training will be in three courses. If you would like to know more about it, call the Augusta Red Cross at 724-8481.