Interview with Superstorm Sandy youth volunteer, Eli Russ
Superstorm Sandy cut a destructive path up the coast, flooding streets with torrential rainfall and battering homes with dangerous, gale-force winds. With the help of volunteers, the American Red Cross opened 100+ overnight shelters across multiple states, secured nearly a quarter of a million shelf-stable meals, and deployed more than 1,300 trained emergency workers to the areas where they’re needed most.
Here’s an inside look on how Eli Russ and his club responded to the Superstorm. Photos can be found at the bottom of the page.
Interview by NYC member, Sabrina Rush, with Eli Russ, American Red Cross National Youth Council member, President of Mamaroneck High School Red Cross Club, and active member of the Larchmont-Mamaroneck Community Emergency Response Team (CERT):
Q: What did you and your club do to respond to Superstorm Sandy?
A: I was monitoring the weather system since the last Sunday when it was still in the Caribbean. Once we knew there was a good chance that it could strike the Northeast, I began to assess the availability of the club members to assist at the possible shelter. We planned to staff the shelter for several days extending to week.
Q: What did you actually do when people arrived?
A: We took out all of the supplies from the shelter trailer and set it up for about 100 people. Our number of clients [in the shelter] weren’t as high as during Hurricane Irene. We only had about 70 residents at peak, while we had 280 during Irene. We did registration, and greatly assisted with our Spanish translators. We also carried supplies. On the final day, we packed up the shelter and put it back in the trailer, which was a very labor-intensive task. Without the assistance of the Club, the Larchmont-Mamaroneck Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), who staffed the shelter, would not have been able to run as a smooth of an operation as it was.
Q: What do you think you and other club members learned from the experience?
A: It was the greatest opportunity to make and feel a noticeable impact for and from our neighbors. We learned not to underestimate a storm that is coming our way. Power outages affected a lot more people than Hurricane Irene: double the amount in our county and our town.
Q: How many people in your club actually helped?
A: About 25 Club members and other high school students helped during the two-night shelter.
Q: Was any training necessary?
A: Few Club members were trained, but a handful had experience when we staffed the shelter for Hurricane Irene last year.
Q: Do you think this will spark people to want to help more?
A: Definitely. Adults and other students came up to me and asked how they could get involved.
How can you help?
Go to www.redcross.org/myfundraisingcampaign to make a donation today or start your own fundraiser to support American Red Cross Disaster Relief today. Your help can provide critical relief like food, shelter, water and more to families affected by disasters like Superstorm Sandy.
- Club President, Eli Russ, looks through his CERT bag as one of the volunteers at a shelter for Superstorm Sandy victims.
- More photos can be viewed here.