Local Volunteers Recall Katrina Relief Efforts
Published: September 1st, 2006
By: Jill Kraft

Local volunteers recall Katrina relief efforts

NORWICH – Just one year after the wrath of disastrous Hurricane Katrina was felt, three local residents share their story about what it was like to be part of the relief effort.

Based in three separate territories in the south, the three worked as Red Cross volunteers to lend a helping hand in any way they could. The hurricane spared little; the volunteerism spared nothing.

Audrey Aitken is a shelter manager and is also the disaster alert team coordinator for Chenango County. Aitken was volunteered in Slidell, Louisiana just across the clause way from New Orleans at two shelters. The first shelter held about 300 people, was crammed and only had two bathrooms.

“People were very sick and many were suffering from diabetic shock,” she said. “The second was better organized but was still very chaotic, people were displaced and confused.”

Aitken recalls the experience as stressful. She says it took her time to calm down after she came home, but she would like to go back and see the progress they are making to rebuild.

Alice Pollock first started volunteering through the Red Cross 15 years ago during the eastern Kansas and Western Missouri floods of 1993. She has volunteered continually minus the time following a motorcycle accident where she was seriously hurt.

“I guess I was spared for a reason,” Pollock said. “God works in mysterious ways.”

When the phone rang in early September, Pollock was unsure of what her mission was going to be; she did however know whatever it was she would be helping people.

Pollock took part in the relief effort from Sept. 7-30. She encountered broken homes, broken lives, looters, devastation and despair. While there, she also encountered Hurricane Rita.

“The devastation was so bad we could not tell one disaster from the other,” Pollock said.

After making her way through the initial command post, the relief effort took Alice to areas of Mississippi including Gulfport and Pascagoula.

“Every place we went, it looked the same,” she said. Pollock took many pictures while in the south and some are of houses with nothing but the foundation left. Other pictures include three birds and one of a flower. These birds were the first birds seen in the area in close to a month; the flower represents to Pollock that life does go on.

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