Capital Region Red Cross volunteers headed to Florida, Texas

September 05, 2017 06:52 PM

COLONIE -- Bill Bloodgood is finally doing it.

Ever since he saw the destruction from 1992's Hurricane Andrew in person he's wanted to help. Tuesday, Bloodgood got on the 12:30 pm flight from Albany to Orlando with his Red Cross vest in his carry on. He is being sent there ahead of Irma.

"The level of devastation that you see in person is vastly different than anything you'll see on TV," said Bloodgood about witnessing Andrew's destruction during a vacation in 1992.

Bloodgood's only training was last week's one day Red Cross boot camp in Glens Falls.

More than 80 people were going through the same training in Colonie Tuesday.

As soon as Wednesday, these people could be sent to shelters in the paths of Harvey or Irma. On Monday night, over 30,000 people in Texas and Louisiana stayed the night in a Red Cross shelter.

Phyllis Mescia from Rensselaer says she's always wanted to help too, but now she is finally retired from her 50 year career in the medical field.

"I was still working full time during Katrina, now I'm retired and I'm able to do this and it just kept nudging me, it just kept saying go," said Mescia.

John McCarthy is nearing retirement. And decided it's time to give back.

"Since the day I was born, the Red Cross was already in my life," said McCarthy.  

The Red Cross wired the news of McCarthy's birth to his father during the Korean War. His mother later became a top volunteer. Now it's his turn to give back.

"So why wouldn't I turn around and do some volunteer service with the Red Cross," said McCarthy.

A lot of volunteers are retired, or have flexible schedules. Bloodgood is a state employee. He says he can get 20 days off a year to volunteer like this.  

"I don't know where I'm going to be stationed, where I'll be, if and when the hurricane hits, so it's a little nerve-racking," said Bloodgood.  

The only certainty for the next two weeks is Bloodgood will be helping people in shelters.

Thirty-four people from this Red Cross region have been sent to help so far.

All you need to do is complete the one day class and clear your schedule for two weeks. The next boot camp in the Capital Region is in Saratoga next Wednesday.

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Asa Stackel

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