Local Red Cross Volunteer Helps In Houston, Shares Stories of Heartache And Hope

Organization Has Sent More Than 100 Volunteers From The Dakotas To Areas Hit By Hurricane Harvey, Irma

SIOUX FALLS, S.D.– Since Hurricane Harvey and Irma hit, the American Red Cross has provided nearly 1 million overnight stays to victims. They have opened shelters in 8 states, as well as in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. More than 100 North and South Dakotans have answered the call for help as well.

“It’s just natural for me to be involved where I can help some other people,” said American Red Cross Volunteer Dan Wall.

Wall has been volunteering with the Red Cross in Eastern South Dakota for almost a year. Last month, he received the call to head south.

“I was surprised how quickly the Red Cross brings people together from all over the country,” said Wall.

He and another volunteer set out in an Emergency Response Vehicle. They made the nearly 1,300 mile trip to Austin, then to the areas hardest hit by Hurricane Harvey.

Wall said, “Another volunteer from Houston was teamed up with me, and her and I went into Houston.”

In groups of two, Wall was with 29 others who traveled to neighborhoods handing out food.

“Each house, hundreds and hundreds of homes, had everything on the first floor, bath tub, showers, toilets, toys, clothes, food, all piled out on the curb of every one of the houses,” said Wall.

Wall and the other volunteers would set out at 6 a.m. They would deliver about 250 meals around noon, and again in the evening. His day would end at 8 p.m. Everyday he did this for two weeks.

Wall said, “Driving up and down the street, they were, they were very happy, for the most part. They were good natured. They still had a sense of humor.”

Wall says their attitudes and the camaraderie he witnessed among volunteers is what kept him going. He says he wouldn’t hesitate to do it again; maybe next time with his wife.

“I had a lot of people come up and give me hugs, and I probably had more blessings than I’ve ever had in my life. The people were very grateful for his presence,” Wall said.

The Red Cross of eastern South Dakota says they just deployed six more volunteer to the affected areas in Texas and Florida again Tuesday.

American Red Cross of Eastern South Dakota Executive Dir. Jennifer Ross said, “One of our volunteers talked about people with tears in their eyes as they were able to hand them meals and just say how grateful they were to have food at a time where they’re just trying to figure out how they’re going to take their next step.”

The Red Cross says they will continuously be sending volunteers to those areas while they prepare for the potential of more dangerous storms. They expect to be in Texas and Florida up until at least Thanksgiving. They’re still asking for volunteers and donations, which can be given at redcross.org.

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