Three St. Lawrence County residents have deployed to the Gulf Coast to assist with Hurricane Isaac disaster relief efforts.
Timothy J. Schwob, Potsdam; Gary B. Coffey, Hermon, and Janet O. Wakefield, Gouverneur, are the only three north country residents trained properly to be deployed to national Red Cross disasters. Each of them left St. Lawrence County late last week.
Just because theyre sent specifically to Florida doesnt mean theyll stay there, said Kelly E. Hecker, Red Cross of Northern New Yorks emergency services manager. Its where immediate need is.
Mr. Schwob and Mr. Coffey were sent to Florida, while Mrs. Wakefield was sent to Alabama.
Its really hard work and fantastically rewarding, Mr. Schwob said Wednesday from Washington, D.C. From my experience, when communities are hit hard, they really do come together. If they need help from us, we can provide that.
The former SUNY Potsdam professor said because there was minimal rain when he arrived Saturday in Tallahassee, Fla., he was transferred to the nations capital the day after to help lead liaison operations. His job typically would involve working in the field, acting as a liaison between the Red Cross and any agencies that also seek to provide disaster relief.
Mr. Coffey and Mrs. Wakefield offer disaster mental health services.
Its traumatic during a disaster, so those two will help with counseling in the shelter system, Mrs. Hecker said.
Mr. Coffey and Mrs. Wakefield will be on two-week deployments, while Mr. Schwob will be on a three-week deployment, the maximum time required.
The Red Cross provides transportation to the disaster site and shelter once volunteers arrive.
The three St. Lawrence County volunteers are a part of a group of 38 from the Red Crosss Central New York region who have been deployed since Hurricane Isaac struck the Florida Keys on Sunday, when it was still a tropical storm. It later became a category-one hurricane with winds at 75 mph and has brought storms to Florida, Louisiana and Alabama, according to the Weather Channel. The storm, about 400 miles wide when it hit the coast, has weakened but is projected to reach as far north as Ohio and Michigan.
Mrs. Wakefield, Mr. Coffey and Mr. Schwob will check in with the national and local American Red Cross. While they may deploy for two or three weeks at a time, they can volunteer for another deployment, depending on the need in the national Red Cross volunteer database.
More volunteers who are available for national disaster relief are needed, Mrs. Hecker said. For more information, call her at the local Red Cross office at 782-4410.