Local volunteers shipped out across the country to aid with natural disasters

Published: Sep. 21, 2022 at 5:47 PM CDT
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FARGO, N.D. (Valley News Live) - After rampant flooding this last spring, many in the valley have had their fill of disaster. However, volunteers in the area from the American Red Cross are still seeking them out.

While this is normally the busy season with hurricanes for the American Red Cross, they say the amount of this year’s work is higher than normal, as it spans from floods in Kentucky to wildfires in California.

“It was horrible,” said Sandra Heggeness, who just returned from aiding with wildfires in California. “I met the son of one of the ladies that was killed, and his mom was getting in the car to leave and she had so little time she couldn’t even get in her car to get out. He was carrying her purse around because that was all he had left of her.”

Rob Reuland, disaster program manager for ARC, who just returned from helping with flooding in Kentucky, said, “When you sit down and look at the pictures of the different areas that you saw, it makes you just realize how lucky we are that our family members didn’t have to go through anything like that.”

There was also a typhoon that hit the western coast of Alaska, flooding and destroying areas so remote that a phone interview was not even possible to the volunteer there.

Despite the hardships and horrors that the volunteers see, they say the strength and support in those communities is what keeps them coming back to lend a hand.

“They just can’t believe you’re doing what you do and they’re thankful that you’re there. I can’t describe it, it’s just...tremendous. I’ve just been back a couple days and I’m ready to go back again,” said Heggeness.

“A lot of people, even though they lost everything, are worried about their neighbor and others. It’s amazing to see the care from people that come into these communities and how the communities help support one another during these disasters,” added Reuland.

90% of Red Cross helpers are volunteers, if you’d like to help, click here.