Woodward, Okla. —
Local Red Cross Disaster Action Team (DAT) members heard a first-hand report of Hurricane Sandy relief efforts from a state volunteer during their monthly meeting Tuesday.
Karen Daily, who is a Red Cross relief volunteer from Taloga, spoke to members of the Northwest Oklahoma DAT about her recent deployment to New York following the devastating late-October hurricane.
Daily spent 2 weeks working in a Catholic school's dormitory that had been transformed into temporary housing victims of Hurricane Sandy.
"It was a very unique experience. The first 2 days were very intense, things seemed almost chaotic, but I had a fantastic group of volunteers working alongside me and they helped ease my transition," she said.
Daily said she spent the majority of her time as a shelter worker, aiding people living in the dormitories in a variety of ways such as wheeling people in wheelchairs who couldn't get around well themselves and settling disputes amongst the residents. Before she left, Daily had been promoted to shift supervisor.
She also saw over 100 people move out of the shelter.
"When I arrived in Long Island there were 350 people being housed in the dormitory, by the time I'd left there were only 220," Daily said.
VOLUNTEERING BUILDS RELATIONSHIPS
In addition to her duties, Daily spoke about the relationships she established as a Red Cross volunteer.
"You meet some fantastic people," she said. "There were volunteers from all over the United States from California to Colorado, even some from the US Virgin Islands. When Thanksgiving came around volunteers from the Canadian Red Cross showed up as well to make up for the Americans going home to spend the holiday with their families. And even though the people living in the dorms because of Hurricane Sandy were suffering they were really sweet people."
Daily continued, "I'm staying in touch with many of the people I met there, several of us still text each other. It was really a very positive experience."
Daily explained that in exchange for her volunteerism, the Red Cross took care of all of her food, lodging, and travel expenses.
"The Red Cross takes great care of volunteers. When I arrived in Long Island they provided me with material that explained everything from how to ride the New York subway to how to hail a cab. It was quite an experience," she said.