Valley volunteers head to the East Coast

November 1, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
A group of local volunteers is making the trip back east to assist with the recovery efforts.

As images of Superstorm Sandy's destructive aftermath continue to swirl in, the need for volunteers is growing. And local chapters of the American Red Cross are responding by sending volunteers to the region.

Gary Bishop of Merced is no stranger to natural disasters. He's been deployed around 20 times to disaster zones as a volunteer with the Red Cross, and is preparing to head out once again.

Maybe there might be restaurants open, you just never know, it's all an adventure, you just go and roll with the punches.

The Central Valley chapter of the Red Cross is sending two local volunteers to help with the relief efforts in the northeast.

"Our organization could not deliver our mission services without the dedication of our volunteers," Ellen Knapp said. "They go through hours of training, and they leave home in the middle of the night, maybe for days on end or for a couple weeks."

This volunteer was finalizing her paperwork to fly out Thursday night, and help flood victims at shelters.

"The background, working in an ICU has been helpful," Regina Bustamante said. "Hopefully I'll be able to see some... hope to prevent them from getting any worse if they're sick, power.

And millions of people in New York and New Jersey are still without power. Around a dozen local utility workers with PG&E left Fresno earlier this week to help northeast crews restore electricity.

Jeff Smith said, "From what we're hearing from our crews that are on the ground there, it's really devastating, it's going to be really challenging in terms of getting those folks restored with power."

And while it could be some time before a sense of normalcy is restored, volunteers are helping the victims rebuild their lives.


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