Reno, NV - After spending two to three weeks on the East Coast helping victims of Hurricane Sandy, several local Red Cross volunteers have returned to Reno.
"We started out with 56 animals and then they were rescuing more animals and bringing them to our shelter," says Nancy Barrett, a local Red Cross volunteer. She's talking about what it was like running a shelter in New Jersey, where she spent the last three weeks.
She says, on average, there were 350 people using her shelter.
"They really came together, really came together," she says of the community and everyone who helped out after the hurricane swept through.
Barrett is one of nine people from the Northern Nevada chapter of the American Red Cross who recently returned to Reno from the East Coast. It was not an easy trip. And the first few days of disaster relief were very challenging.
"We had no Internet access, we had no television, we had no electricity, we were running on generators," says Barrett. Her shelter started off in Toms River, New Jersey, but after a few weeks, they had to move it to another location.
Despite all of the difficulties she and her fellow volunteers faced, she says what sticks out in her mind the most are the good memories.
"One is the volunteers who came in to help were phenomenal. Second, the clients and the resilience they showed. The third was the non-profits who came in. They set up child care, they set up hair salons, they tried to help people - give them some semblance of normality and some relief," says Barrett.
For Americorps and Red Cross Volunteer Kevin Masters, getting deployed to New Jersey was an opportunity to make a difference. He was excited when he got the call a few weeks ago to deploy to Metlife Stadium. He worked in the kitchen.
"It's funny because in the Red Cross training videos, they show the Emergency Response Vehicles going out and they show people casually like feeding them and having conversations with them," says Masters. "That was certainly not the case here. As soon as we got to the parking lot, there was a line down the street. Probably for like two hours, I did nothing but serve food. For like two hours, I was like a machine, over and over again."
While several Red Cross volunteers returned to Reno recently, there are still 21 local volunteers who are still on the East Coast and will remain there through the Thanksgiving holiday. They want to make sure that people who need help are taken care of.
If you would like to donate to Red Cross Sandy Relief Efforts, call 775-856-1000.