WNY volunteers head to disaster zones

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Rain and floodwaters have devastated much of the country and now Western New Yorkers are headed to the disaster zone to help out.

Vlunteers are going to Florida and Alabama to help people affected by this week’s catastrophic storms.

Lockport resident Diane Sargent said, “The devastation, they’re going through all of this, the least I can do is go down there and help them.”

Sargent is one of six Red Cross volunteers going to hard hit areas. Sargent flew with Pete Swales to Pensacola, Florida.

At the height of the storm, 24 inches of rain fell in 24 hours. Flash flooding washed away roads and bridges. Florida’s Governor declared a state of emergency in 26 counties, bringing the city to a standstill.

Sargent said, “They had all that rain. My heart breaks to see what those people had to go through.”

Volunteer Pete Swales said, “To see that damage is just horrific. After you do a few of these you kind of know what those people are thinking and your heart just aches.”

Both volunteers will be responsible of assessing the damage in Pensacola for the next two to three weeks.

Sargent said, “We go around and find the damaged areas to be able to report back to headquarters where the damages are, what’s needed there, how bad the damage was.”

Sargent says the Red Cross will then use that information to map out where they should bring items such as food, water or cleanup kits to victims.

Both volunteers agree that helping the families in need, makes them grateful and appreciative for what they have.

The Red Cross has already served nearly 9,000 meals to people in need because of this week’s flooding.

If you want to help, you can donate to the Red Cross Disaster Relief fund.

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