Written by Charles Hunter, American Red Cross
When Sue Krueger’s phone rang, the call to deploy came as no surprise. The American Red Cross volunteer had been tracking Hurricane Ida for days, and within hours she arrived in Amite, Louisiana, to join a team of Red Cross responders from across the country. Quickly establishing a shelter, they provided a safe place for evacuees and comforted them as the storm came rolling through.
A sixteen-year veteran, Sue is no stranger to disaster operations. She deployed to Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and over the years has been deeply engaged in the Red Cross chapter near her home St. Charles, Missouri.
“It’s rewarding to work in a shelter providing direct support to clients affected by the storm. One elderly woman at the Amite shelter wrote a poem of appreciation and read it aloud to the Red Cross volunteers. We were all in tears when she was done.”
Being part of a large disaster relief effort requires volunteers to be flexible, and Sue was soon assigned to the Disaster Assessment team near the town of LaPlace, documenting damage and helping families recover.
“When I arrived it was total destruction. Roofs were gone, trees were down everywhere and many power poles and lines were down”.
While conducting damage assessment there, a National Guard member who had been deployed helping others arrived to find her own home nearly destroyed. “I told her I was from the Red Cross, and that we are the first step to help—and more help is coming.”
Remaining flexible, Sue was then assigned to Disaster Emergency Services and loaded Red Cross emergency response vehicles with cleanup kits that included rakes, shovels, mops, trash bags and gloves. To improve efficiency, she collaborated with the National Guard, churches, and other non-profit organization to set up common distribution centers in the hardest hit areas. In one day alone, Disaster Emergency Services provided supplies to over 9,600 families.
Sue’s deployment to Louisiana began August 28 and she returned home on September 10. Red Cross volunteers typically commit to two-week deployments, working ten-hour days fulfilling the mission to alleviate human suffering in the face of disasters. In an era of chronic disasters, Sue Krueger knows the phone will ring again and is ready to respond.
“Everywhere I went during my time of providing relief to families affected by Hurricane Ida I was deeply moved to see people helping each other.”