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April 6, 2013

Valley volunteers continue contributing to Sandy relief efforts

TERRE HAUTE — Finding housing for victims of Superstorm Sandy is the full-time job of Wabash Valley Red Cross volunteers working in New York City.

Janice Hawkins and Jane Walters arrived in New York in mid-week and are now working one-on-one with Sandy victims as they struggle to find places to live.

“Some are just so devastated they are just sitting there not doing anything,” Hawkins said in an interview Friday from New York.

Hawkins and Walters are both stationed at the Red Cross headquarters in Manhattan. Walters is assigned to assist people in New York City; Hawkins is dealing with Sandy victims in Queens.

Many of the stories of Sandy victims are extremely sad, Hawkins said, making a long day of work especially difficult.

“After 10 to 12 hours of doing this, you’re ready to go back and just collapse,” she said. “It’s very upsetting, but we’re trying to help and maybe bring a little hope into their lives.”

Although Superstorm Sandy hit the east coast five months ago, recovery is still under way.

“Our [Hurricane] Katrina recovery work lasted for five years, our work in Haiti is now in its third year and we’re still helping families in Joplin, Missouri,” said Carol Stevens, Wabash Valley Red Cross executive director.

“Housing is the biggest need in the Sandy-effected areas,” Stevens said. “As the recovery goes on, the needs of survivors will evolve.”

Superstorm Sandy is the largest U.S. response by the Red Cross in more than five years. Volunteers have served nearly 17 million meals and snacks, handed out more than 7 million relief items and mobilized more than 17,000 trained volunteers.

Walters and Hawkins expect to be in New York for another two or three weeks. Both are veteran Red Cross volunteers, helping local families who have suffered home fires and also volunteering at disaster sites around the country.

“This could be us,” Hawkins said of the disaster victims she is helping. “We need to think ahead, plan ahead and we need to help one another,” she said.

To volunteer, make a donation or to learn more about the Red Cross, visit The Wabash Valley Red Cross serves Clay, Greene, Parke, Putnam, Sullivan, Vermillion and Vigo counties in Indiana and Edgar County in Illinois.

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

You Can Help

• To volunteer, make a donation or to learn more about the Red Cross, visit


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