“Ninety-five percent of the activities are good, and we deal with the 5 percent that are not so good,” said Johnson, who lives in Idaho Falls. “There’s always going to be problems. It’s just about getting ahead of them with the group that is responsible to make sure those things are taken care of.”
She spent time in Columbia, S.C., and in Durham, Goldsboro and Willmington, N.C. Road closures caused by the endless onslaught of flooding were by far the biggest hurdle, Johnson said.
“There were some areas in the district that weren’t even accessible within the district and that made doing our job very difficult, and we weren’t able to accomplish as much during a day because there’s so much time on the road,” she said.
“Your shortest point, which should be 45 minutes, could be three hours or more.”
On one of her site visits she was transported in a military Humvee that plowed through roads covered in water. Some of her teammates got rides in Army high-water vehicles.
And the conditions were constantly changing. By the second week of her deployment, many roads began to reopen as the flooding receded.
“One day you need a really hard vehicle to get in there and the next day everybody can get there,” she said.
North Carolina was familiar territory to Johnson. During this deployment she spent time in Goldsboro, where she also served two years ago following Hurricane Matthew.
“It was like home,” she laughed.
Even though Florence made landfall a month ago, the recovery work is only beginning, Johnson said, and she urged people to continue supporting these relief efforts.
“Casework just opened down there this week so there’s a lot of work to do going forward,” she said.
And she’s raised her hand to go back.
“I do it because I can do it,” she said. “If everybody had the attitude of ‘why should I’ then the job just wouldn’t get done.”
Since mid-September the Red Cross of Greater Idaho and Montana has deployed 30 volunteers and staffers to the Carolinas and Virginia with more expected to go out the door in the weeks to come. Support these relief efforts by visiting www.redcross.org, calling 800-RED-CROSS or texting the word Florence to 90999 to make a $10 donation.