Remote Volunteers Help Those Impacted by Devastating Flooding

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Devastating flooding in Louisiana has impacted at least 75,000 people.

The American Red Cross New Hampshire and Vermont Region is deploying a group to help in this emergency, some of them working from their own homes.

70-year-old Susan Steinhurst got the call Tuesday, she’d be volunteering for the Red Cross. She’s not getting on a plane, in fact, she won’t even have to leave her dining room table.

“Well, it’s interesting it sort of has the feeling of being there except that I’m home,” Steinhurst said.

The Montpelier resident will be working the Red Cross call center remotely, connecting callers with resources on the ground.

“They are taking phone calls from people who have great stress and great need,” Linda Hokit, the Disaster Workforce Engagement Manger of our region’s Red Cross, said.

Hokit says people like Steinhurst can handle a variety of calls, from crisis situations to reuniting families.

 “You hang up the phone and you hope you’ve helped them,” Hokit said.

As of Wednesday 8 volunteers, 3 from Vermont and 5 from New Hampshire, have signed up to work remotely. Hokit says their shifts will be about 4 hours long for 3 days a week. They’ll be working over the next two weeks.

Steinhurst knows the area well, she was in Louisiana during Hurricane Katrina. She was also deployed to New York after Superstorm Sandy.

“You’re constantly thinking, how can I help this person, what can I do,” Steinhurst said.

The retired “lunch lady” at Montpelier High School has been volunteering for 16 years with the Red Cross. Her first deployment was on September 11.

Taking these calls will be new for her.

“It’s just good to talk to people and let them know that somebody cares about them,” Steinhurst said.

After spending Wednesday training, Steinhurst will start taking calls Thursday. Even being far away, she urges others to do all they can even from home.

“You know, in another week, we won’t hear about Louisiana anymore. It won’t be on the news, but it’s still going to be a huge deal in Louisiana. So they need to know that people haven’t forgotten them,” Steinhurst said.

3 volunteers from our region will be working on the ground in Louisiana. Hokit says 670 people in the area are trained and ready to be deployed at anytime. At least 14 volunteers and staff from Upstate New York are being deployed as well.

Click here for more information on the American Red Cross New Hampshire & Vermont and Eastern New York.

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