BALTIMORE (WJZ)– Back to back devastation from hurricanes has thousands of Red Cross volunteers on the move, including many from Maryland.
For many in the Florida Keys, the scale of destruction for the tropical island from Hurricane Irma is total loss.
“A lot of people are without water and without food,” one woman said.
“We don’t have anything. What little we had, we lost,” another woman said.
Red Cross volunteers headed to the Keys to aid recovery efforts, have signed on to what’s called a “hardship deployment.”
“A hardship deployment is not expect to have electricity, to have perhaps water interruptions, to not have a solid place to stay. I’ve been told they’re putting up tent cities in the Keys,” said Regional Red Cross CEO Scott Salemme, who just returned from Texas and was back at BWI-Marshall for a flight to Florida. “We have 29 shelters that are still open in Florida, with a population of about 2,000 people down there.”
For people picking up the pieces in the Keys, the Red Cross will also focus on helping homeowners clear debris.
“I didn’t want to see this, but we’ll pick-up, we’ll move on,” one man said.
Between Harvey and Irma, 6,000 Red Cross volunteers mobilized, including 200 from Maryland and there’s more work ahead.
Hurricane Maria tore through Puerto Rico with such force, the Red Cross is facing more than a hardship deployment.
“An extreme hardship assignment is there’s no basic necessities. So it’s going to be really difficult to recruit for Puerto Rico at this point, but it’s something we will be doing,” Salemme said.
While the Red Cross focus is on damage to the South, a task force has begun planning for the possibility of a hurricane hitting the East Coast.