Michiana Red Cross volunteers waiting to respond to Huricane Irene

By: Barbara Harrington Email
By: Barbara Harrington Email

About a dozen Michiana Red Cross volunteers were supposed to fly out Saturday to provide relief to areas hit by Hurricane Irene. But while East Coast residents are uncertain when they’ll get to go home, some volunteers don’t know when they’ll make it to the coast.

They want to lend a helping hand, but most of Michiana’s Red Cross volunteers can’t even get their feet off the ground.

“Today we got our first calls around 6:30 this morning that flights for people who were supposed to go to Newark and New York City had been cancelled,” said Gena Robinson, Director of Emergency Services at the St. Joseph County Red Cross.

So instead of packing onto a plane, volunteer Mary Nagy packed up her bags to go home. After anxiously waiting to leave on her first Red Cross deployment, it was a disappointment.

“It’s going to be pretty backed up because they’ve cancelled a lot of flights,” Nagy said. “It may be Monday or Tuesday before we can leave now.

While Nagy’s waiting in St. Joseph County for the next few days, four Michiana volunteers were able to make it to the East Coast Saturday. South Bend resident Frank Gray is at an armory in Baltimore. He’s helping feed 1,300 international students who were evacuated from nearby Ocean City.

Gray says Saturday night around 8:30, they were still waiting for the storm to hit.

“There’s just lots of rain, there’s no people on the streets,” he said. “There are hardly any cars going around for a downtown area and it’s pretty calm.”

The calm before what’s already proven to be a deadly storm – but one Gray hopes will be kind to Baltimore and the rest of the East Coast.

Red Cross volunteers can be deployed for up to 21 days. Officials say because the storm hasn’t completely passed through, they don’t know how big or how expensive relief efforts could be.

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