Red Cross Volunteer Reunited with Family on the Road to Recovery

Joan Nyitrai, an American Red Cross volunteer from Hendersonville, N.C.
"You really did remember us. You really do care."

Under the heading of strange but true is this story from Joan Nyitrai, an American Red Cross volunteer from Hendersonville, N.C.

Right after Superstorm Sandy struck the New York area in October, Nyitrai, a volunteer since 1997 and a registered nurse in Red Cross health services, along with some Red Cross colleagues, went to a hard-hit section of Staten Island to check things out.

They walked the streets and talked to residents to find out what people needed.

It was at one severely damaged house that she saw a man and woman tossing furnishings and clothing out the back door as they tried to salvage what they could.

“We told them the Red Cross is here, that we haven’t forgotten about you and that we do care and we will be here to help you,” Nyitrai recalled.

Last month, she enlisted to help with the Mississippi tornado recovery but the Red Cross sent her back to New York where she joined the growing corps of client caseworkers.

“That was fate,” she said.

In early March, Nyitari was part of a casework team canvassing Staten Island neighborhoods to gather information about what the Red Cross and partner agencies can do to help recovery efforts.

The team went into a house where the interior was stripped to the studs, the mold removed and new wiring and plumbing installed as repair work continued.

As they talked, the woman kept looking at Nyitari who suddenly realized she was at the same house where she had earlier offered reassurances of Red Cross assistance.

“She looked at me and finally said, ‘You really did remember us. You really do care.’ She asked if she could hug me and we hugged and cried,” Nyitari said.