It was exhausting, but it was rewarding and Red Cross volunteers from Knox County who headed for New York City in the wake of Superstorm Sandy, would do it again.
Cathy and Bob Lynch returned late last Thursday from a 15-day tour of duty and Melody Brent of Apple Valley returned Sunday night after 20 days on Long Island.
They didn’t start out at the same location, but the Lynches wound up working in the same shelter at Nassau Community College where Brent was serving as assistant manager.
The shelter housed about 800 people on two floors and the Lynches spent their days serving breakfast, cleaning up, sterilizing everything, then serving lunch and cleaning up all over again, getting ready for the next shift to serve dinner.
The population has dropped since the Lynches left. Brent said she talked to the supervisor Tuesday and it was down to 329. Nothing special was planned yet for Thanksgiving, although they were still trying to get donations.
Most of those who remain, she said, are people who were already homeless before the storm, and some with mental health issues.
“FEMA, Health and Human Services, local Social Services and Red Cross Client Services have been doing a bang-up job (of getting people into housing),” Brent said. “I am proud to have been part of the effort.”
Brent said the experience was rewarding for her, especially when she witnessed people being reunited with family members.
Sometimes, she said, people would vent their anger and frustration at her, but they would almost always come back later and apologize. She especially loved the drawings from children at the shelter, expressing their thanks for the workers’ help. She brought back several to share.
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