News From Terre Haute, Indiana

October 30, 2012

Valley Red Cross volunteers helping Sandy’s victims

Arthur Foulkes
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — As “Sandy” roared outside, Terre Haute Red Cross volunteer Wendy Taylor worked Monday to help New York City-area residents who have been driven from their homes.

Taylor is one of eight Wabash Valley Red Cross volunteers on the east coast helping deal with the powerful storm.

“The lights keep flickering,” Taylor said in a late-Monday evening telephone interview from inside the teachers’ lounge of a Mount Vernon, N.Y. middle school converted into a shelter. The middle school is about 10 miles north of Manhattan and was the only building in the area with power late Monday, Taylor said.

There were nearly 30 people utilizing the shelter Monday evening, Taylor reported. More people were expected, she said.

“It just keeps blowing and blowing [outside],” Taylor said. “You think it’s going to let up and it still is blowing sideways like crazy.”

Farther inland, volunteers Don and Virginia Gorrell, who also left the Terre Haute area over the weekend, are in Harrisburg, Pa. waiting out the powerful storm. On Monday, they drove a Red Cross emergency response vehicle to area shelters and could feel Sandy battering their truck.

“The wind was bouncing us around pretty good,” said Don late Monday, speaking from a Harrisburg-area motel.

Taylor and the Gorrells are veteran Red Cross volunteers. They all were part of the Wabash Valley Red Cross response to Hurricane Isaac in August.

“We’re pretty much in the center of it,” Gorrell said. “The eye is coming pretty much right at us.”

Taylor, whose husband, Jim, and three daughters are awaiting her safe return, said the New York-area residents who have come into the shelter are grateful for the help, but also annoyed at the disruption the storm has caused to their normal lives.

“We have electricity. We’re safe and warm and we have food. We have cots to sleep on tonight,” Taylor said. “There was a guy who wanted to sing me a song and said a little prayer. He was just so thankful that we were there and able to help him,” she said.

Reporter Arthur Foulkes can be reached at (812) 231-4232 or