Capital Region Red Crossers headed to Florida to help with Hurricane relief

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ALBANY – When the unthinkable occurs, when disaster strikes, when your world is turned upside down, the Red Cross has been coming to the rescue now for more than 140 years.

“The Red Cross prevents and alleviates human suffering in the face of emergencies by mobilizing the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors,” Bill Loeb, a Red Cross volunteer from Glens Falls, recited from the Red Cross Mission Statement.

Loeb embodies and embraces that credo. That’s why after retiring from politics a few years ago, Loeb signed on as a volunteer. When he arrives in the Florida hurricane zone in the coming days, it’ll mark his fourth deployment to a national disaster.

“There are going to be people who need help and the pictures you see on television and in the papers of smiles and tears and hugs, and laughter, that’s real,” he asserted. “There is no sugarcoating it. It’s palpable.”

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Red Cross volunteers are thoroughly trained before being dispatched to their maiden disaster. It raises the question, What characteristics or traits make up the quintessential Red Cross worker? What’s in their DNA?

“I think just being a humanitarian,” Anna Maison, a Red Cross employee from Canastota, New York, and already on the ground in Orlando stated. “I think that’s what it comes down to is wanting to help people and wanting to help folks navigate through these difficult times.”

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Maison was in Orlando when Ian ripped apart the Florida peninsula on Wednesday night. As someone who has see a fair share of disaster zones, she has a pretty good idea what lies ahead.

“A lot of it is going to be sheltering,” she said. “We have opened quite a few evacuation centers, which will then be turned into shelters for folks who had to leave their homes and are displaced currently. It’s definitely hard, because we’re dealing with clients, and we’re helping them navigate these really horrible situations. It might be one of the worst days of their lives.”

When all is said and done, more than 3,000 Red Cross workers and volunteers will have been deployed in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian.