"Ever wonder what it’s like to go on a disaster relief assignment? Joanne Niemann, a five year American Red Cross volunteer from West Bend, share’s her experience and describes her three week stay assisting those devastated by the spring tornadoes.
Joanne Niemann had been on disaster assignments before. She had been to Southern Illinois in 2007 to assist those affected by flooding and when Hurricane Gustav slammed into the southern portion of the United States in 2008, Joanne went down to aid those ravaged by that catastrophic event. When she was asked to go down to Tuscaloosa, Alabama to help those who were victims of the violent tornado outbreak that occurred this past spring Joanne obliged.
For three weeks, Joanne Niemann was in Tuscaloosa as an American Red Cross volunteer. Her particular assignment was providing shelter for those affected by the historic tornado outbreak that left much of the southern states in despair. Volunteering in a shelter was in fact new to Joanne, who had previously done client casework in her other two assignments. For Joanne, working in a shelter offered a wonderful experience because she got to interact with the same people for three weeks “I got to know the people at the shelter on a more personal level, which was nice.” Niemann shared. In addition, Joanne was impressed by how close the city of Tuscaloosa was and how well people and relief agencies worked together.
Joanne was thoroughly impressed with the people and noticed that everyone seemed to come together and support one another in what otherwise appeared to be a time of crisis. Along with this, she stated that relief agencies such as the American Red Cross, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Salvation Army along with the community as a whole worked together incredibly well. Even though it took a federal disaster to bring so many people and groups together, Joann insists the experience she had there was “awesome.”
Along with making a difference in people’s lives and assisting those who are victims of a disaster, Joanne asserts that the opportunity to work with people from all over the country with diverse backgrounds can lead to strong bonds and long-lasting friendships. For those wondering if she would ever go on another assignment, the answer is absolutely!"