By Esme Murphy

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Sixty-eight Minnesotans who are volunteers for the Red Cross are down in the flood zone trying to help care for the thousands who have been forced out of their homes by Hurricane Florence.

Esme Murphy spoke to three of those volunteers Wednesday.

All three of the volunteers are retirees who are now on a two-week deployment to one of the hardest-hit areas. In New Bern, a town of 30,000, more than 4,000 homes have serious flood damage.

Red Cross volunteer Elaine Johnson is a retired teacher from International Falls.

“Some areas look like nothing has ever happened and you can go over a few miles and it’s totally devastated,” Johnson said.

Johnson, along with Mark and Gail Noren from Northfield, are working at a New Bern shelter helping those who are displaced.

“They don’t know if they have lost their home as thy are waiting out the storm and some of them find out their home in flooded,” Gail Noren said. “We just take it day by day. We try to walk side by side with people and offer a little encouragement.”

Mark Noren is a minister and Gail is a retired social worker. Two years ago they saw a Red Cross ad on television looking for volunteers for Hurricane Matthew, which also hit the Carolinas.

“We thought, you know, we can do that. We no longer have full-time jobs. We can give two weeks, and we did fast-track training at the Minneapolis office and were sent out within the week,” said Gail.

This is Johnson’s first deployment and she says the Red Cross’ ability to coordinate their relief effort is remarkable.

“It’s an amazing thing to watch and if there is anything I could say to the people back home is don’t forget the Red Cross and don’t forget to donate,” Johnson said.

A link to donate to the Red Cross’ Hurricane Florence relief efforts is available here.

But those efforts need manpower.

The Norens and Johnson are three of the Minnesotans using their manpower to help the Red Cross deliver those efforts to hurricane and flooding victims.

Esme Murphy


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