As Hurricane Delta prepares to make landfall along the U.S. Gulf Coast, Arizonans with a determination to serve are leaving the sunny weather of our state to help the thousands facing a life-or-death situation.
“There’s one family that has gone through this three times now in fifteen years, they’ve lost three homes completely and because they’re on the coast, they don’t have insurance,” said Steve Larson, a Phoenix resident who is in New Orleans with his wife volunteering with the Red Cross.
These are the stories of heartbreak and pain from inside a Louisiana shelter. Though, it also reaffirms that Larson and his wife, Patty's, decisions to spend their retirement helping others was the right decision.
“We can’t do the commingled big stadiums full of people. In the past we’ve been able to put thousands in a large area and keep them in cots,” said Larson.
But, the global pandemic has changed the strategy. Now, hundreds of people who've been evacuated are being relocated to dozens of hotels across the area.
“A lot of the businesses are boarded up already. The city's driving around with sandbags and equipment," he said. "You can really tell people are starting to buckle down for this hurricane."
Hurricane Delta, which is currently a Category 2 hurricane, is projected to make landfall on Friday evening.
It is also the latest disaster during an already vicious storm season. Some homes and buildings are still boarded and covered with tarps throughout Louisiana after Hurricane Laura swept through in late August.
“We’re getting a sequence of gulf storms that seem to be hitting the same immediate area,” said Michael Young, a Phoenix resident who has volunteered with the Red Cross for the last seven years.
“Right now we’ve got about thirteen thousand people in hotels in the gulf area as we speak from Laura and now we’re anticipating delta coming in,” he said.
It is a big task. A lot to do with too few hands on deck.
“There’s just not enough volunteers to take care of the need down here,” said Larson.
“I would say we’re down two-thirds of the volunteers we would normally have if this had happened prior to COVID,” said Young.
They hope others will follow their lead, either donating money or their time to the American Red Cross. You can visit http://www.redcross.org for more information.