Lubbock disaster relief volunteer recounts his experience on the

Lubbock disaster relief volunteer recounts his experience on the East Coast

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LUBBOCK, Texas -

Red Cross volunteers from the South Plains are back after a 66 day deployment to the East Coast.

Volunteer Brad Larson was recently deployed to the Carolinas. 

"I was there for a couple of weeks and then I came home, but then our emergency response vehicle went down to Florida where they took part in Hurricane Michael, and we just got it back here about a week ago," he said. 

Larson said volunteering in those conditions is an eye-opening experience. 

"Sometimes we are just told to go out and find people that need help. Then we are driving around the communities, and we have a loud speaker and we announce that we have food," he said, "and then we figure out where people are and then the next day we go back and serve the very same areas. So some days you are just driving around looking for people, we could be the first people that are there after disaster, the first help people have seen." 

Working in devastated areas brings several challenges. 

"We had places we couldn't even get to because they were surrounded by water and we found someone with an airboat, these boats that have big fans in the back, and we loaded the food on the airboats and took them out to this place that had become an island. We fed people that way for a few days," he said. 

Larson said some of the tasks assigned to Lubbock volunteers varied between meal distribution, passing out clothing and even assessing disaster damage of homes. 

"You never know what you are going to expect, in fact you really don't  know where you are going to go. You are given an assignment, and in two days that may change based on the hurricanes and disasters that have happened, but you get out there and you are assigned to an area," he said.  "And as an emergency response truck driver, we are given an area and we are loaded up with food. We can carry food for up to 600 people." 

Volunteers are typically deployed for about two weeks. They are allowed to stay longer if they choose, but Larson said after having worked multiple natural disasters, a break is always needed. 

"You're helping people that have lost their homes in a disaster area. So, we are not staying in first class hotels or anything else, most times we are staying in a gymnasium on cots. You are in a room with about 100 or 200 other people that are all sleeping on cots. They have blankets, pillows and sleeping bags, and you're eating food at weird hours of the day," he said.

He said volunteering with the Red Cross has been a life changing experience and encourages anyone who wants to be a part of the disaster relief team.
 

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