BUFFALO N.Y. (WIVB) – Traveling concerns during the coronavirus pandemic are not stopping two Western New Yorkers from heading to texas to help those affected by Hurricane Hanna.
Diane Sargent has been volunteer with the American Red Cross for the last 19 years. In that time, she’s experienced and seen a thing or two, and says this year with the coronavirus pandemic it’s added a whole different set of challenges that her and the other volunteers have had to navigate through.
“Usually we’re in a room and a whole team of us and we’re working together but here it’s not,” she said. “We have to do everything virtually and get our maps and our areas kind of by ourselves and figure it out.”
Sargent says that’s where her years of volunteering experience comes in handy.
“I’ve been to different hurricanes and flooding so I’m used to seeing all the damages and what not,” she said. “I know what we’re looking for.”
Sargent was sent to Texas with fellow volunteer Laurie Hagen to help in the relief efforts following hurricane Hanna. While she helps people in need, she also has to make sure she’s safe from contracting COVID-19.
Regional Communications Officer Jay Bonafede says the Red Cross adjusted its protocols to make sure volunteers and those they’re helping are safe.
“Self screen yourself, your going to not go out if you’re not feeling well,” he said. “Wear a face mask, try to bring hand sanitizer and wipes. If we do have to set up a shelter we’re going to make sure we’re going to set it up with social distancing.”
Sargent and will be in Texas until August 11th and when she returns she’ll quarantine herself for 2 weeks.
The Red Cross is always looking for volunteers or donations. To help click here.
Sarah Minkewicz is a reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2019. See more of her work here.