Across Country Helpers: Two volunteers on a mission


Two American Red Cross volunteers Jerry Chavez and Ray Quintana headed across the country to help their fellow compatriots dealing with the overwhelming effects of Hurricane Harvey. Driving a Red Cross Emergency Response Vehicle (ERV) from Fresno, California to Black Springs, Florida took about a week to arrive.

Emergency Response Vehicles (ERVs) circulate throughout affected communities after disaster to hand out food, relief supplies, information and comfort to those in need.

Right now, more than 250 of these vehicles are on the ground, helping thousands of people affected by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria.

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During the Key West Sunset Celebration at Mallory Square in Florida – the first since Hurricane Irma – the American Red Cross provided free hot meals for dinner.
Photo by Marko Kokic for The American Red Cross 

Before heading out on their cross country drive, Ray and Jerry spoke with local media about their past experiences assisting with disaster relief and what they anticipated to encounter with the recent disaster relief efforts in Florida.

What type of duties do you think you would be doing?

“Most likely we will be mobile feeding, bulk distribution, anything that they need out there: water, snacks, hot meals, to cleaning supplies,” said Chavez.

“We’ll be mobile ready to roll once it goes through to try to get people these services as soon as we get there,” said Chavez.

You ever done anything like this before?

“Yes. Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Sandy my partner and I had gone up for Hurricane Sandy. So we’ve done it a couple times,” said Chavez.

“It’s all ways something new though never the same,” said Chavez.

How long do you expect to be there?

“Our deployment is two weeks. We’ll be out there a full two weeks,” said Chavez.

What do you find that most people need the most?

“The most is the kind of listen to what they have to say. Besides water donations are a big issues,” said Chavez. “People are frustrated and don’t know what to do. Sometimes just venting and moving about their day,” said Chavez.

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Big Pine Key, Florida. During Hurricane Irma, Big Pine Key resident Christina swam from her flooded trailer to a boat across the street. She welcomed health services from Red Cross volunteer nurse Marie, RN, Missouri. Photo by Marko Kokic for the American Red Cross. 

How does that make you feel to be helping? That has to be a good feeling.

“It’s a good feeling to be able to come out of the comfort of our home and to go over there and help,” said Chavez.

“Even if it’s just temporary to help somebody for a short period of time,” said Chavez.

How long have you been a Red Cross volunteer?

“Since Katrina,” said Quintana.

What’s it like being up there?

“It’s hectic sometimes but we love doing the job by being busy and being ready for whatever they call for. So we keep pretty busy out there. Long hours,” said Quintana.

So you have a long drive ahead you? You headed for Florida?

“Yes we do. Yes for Florida. I believe its Black Springs, Florida,” said Quintana.

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Bonita Springs, Florida. American Red Cross volunteers, including volunteer nurses provide much needed support, medical attention, hot meals and water to those impacted by Hurricane Irma in Bonita Springs, Florida. Almost two weeks later, flooding is still impacting residents. Photo by Daniel Cima for the American Red Cross 

When you guys went to Sandy it’s about the same distance. How long was the drive? How long did it take?

“I believe its four to five days. We drove together Jerry and I,” said Quintana.

So do you expect this to be the same trip?

“More or less, yes we’re ready for it.

What do you get out of this trip?

“It makes me feel so good to help people. That’s what we are here for is to help people in their need in the time of need,” said Quintana.

“So we’re there to be these for them and help them any way we can,” said Quintana.

This is a prime of example of how much the Red Cross cares about people in need; in addition to the kind of heart the individuals that volunteer for the Red Cross have.


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