American Red Cross of Utah sends volunteers to Florida to help after Hurricane Idalia
Aug 31, 2023, 5:52 PM | Updated: Sep 1, 2023, 10:17 am
SALT LAKE CITY — As Florida residents continue to assess the damage after Hurricane Idalia struck the state’s Big Bend Area, volunteers from across the country, including Utah, are stepping in to help.
“I was done raising my kids, everybody moved out,” Helene Thomas said. Thomas, who lives in American Fork, is a Red Cross volunteer and has only been a volunteer for several months.
“I had always wanted to do something more humanitarian related and help people.”
Thomas has only been deployed twice. This week she experienced her first hurricane, staying in Jacksonville, Florida as Hurricane Idalia made landfall.
“(There were) some power outages, trees knocked down. Some fires in the area caused by the power outages,” she said.
The now tropical storm brought winds of more than 100 miles per hour leaving some parts of Florida’s Big Bend area flooded and destroyed.
While difficult, Thomas said volunteering can be rewarding.
“You hate to see some be displaced and out of a home. That part is hard,” she said “Just meeting the people and getting the hugs and handshakes. Even just handing them a plate of food when they’ve just lost their home. It’s very rewarding. And you can just see the gratitude in their eyes and just knowing that somebody is there for them to help them pick up the pieces and get back on their feet.”
Her goal along with other volunteers is to help in any way they can.
“That’s what we try and do is just bring hope to people.”
Thomas said the Red Cross is always looking for volunteers or donations. To learn more, click here.