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I Stopped Counting After 50

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I thought disaster relief was just sandbagging.

You’d never guess from looking at Joe Jackson that he is 81 years old.

Jackson’s first disaster response was the 1992 Iowa floods. He went there with 80 students from his college, where he was taking an introductory writing class after retirement.

“I was the only old guy at 50 with all these young kids,” remembers Jackson. “We wanted to help Iowa in their time of need because so many Iowans came to Scranton after the 1972 floods and helped us. We wanted to say thank you.” They slept in a church in Iowa and integrated into the Red Cross response effort.

“I thought disaster relief was just sandbagging. When I found out the Red Cross does all these wonderful things, I wanted to join and be a part of it,” says Jackson, who is trained in many aspects of assistance.

The southeast Pennsylvania father of three and grandfather of “lots” adds, “I stopped counting after 50” national disaster deployments.