Originally published on redcross.org.
American Red Cross disaster relief volunteer Pam Pampe has turned her experience surviving one of America’s worst hurricanes into a mission to help others — including those who may be affected by Hurricane Dorian.
In 1992, Pampe lived in southern Florida where Hurricane Andrew, a monstrous Category 5 storm, forced nearly a quarter million people from their homes. Surviving and recovering from that storm inspired Pampe to become a Red Cross volunteer and show others that they can make it too.
“It gives me a chance to reassure them that in the long run they’re going to be fine,” Pampe said. “Stronger, more resourceful and wiser.”
Pampe is just one of more than 1,600 trained Red Cross volunteers from all over the nation who’ve been deployed to the Southeastern U.S. to help with Dorian relief efforts. The Red Cross has also pre-staged a fleet of over 100 emergency response vehicles and shipped more than 100 tractor-trailer loads full of relief supplies – including cots and blankets in preparation for the storm.
On August 30, Pampe flew from where she now lives, in Virginia, to Atlanta. On this deployment, she is hoping to drive an Emergency Response Vehicle.
Helping Pampe and dozens of other volunteers make their way through Atlanta’s busy and sprawling airport were two welcome ambassadors from the Red Cross Georgia Region — Gary Weinstein and Betty Blessing.
Blessing – who has deployed in the past as a Red Cross volunteer – also has lived in South Florida, where she faced down her share of powerful hurricanes.
“If I came off a plane by myself traveling on a Red Cross deployment, it might be a little bit overwhelming,” Blessing said. “So if they can see a friendly face who’s also with the Red Cross, I think it makes a world of difference.”
As many as 60,000 people across Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas may need emergency shelter from Hurricane Dorian and Red Cross volunteers will be there to provide it.
As Pampe put it: “My job now is to offer a smile and a handshake and ask how can I help.”