2017 San Jose Flooding | A Youth Volunteer Perspective


In February of 2017, San Jose, California experienced a flood that became the city’s worst in over 100 years. Over 14,000 residents were evacuated, and thousands of homes were destroyed. Hundreds sought refuge from the flooding by staying at Red Cross shelters set up across the city.

One of the seven evacuation centers included Evergreen Valley High School (EVHS). When the Red Cross chapter was in need of volunteers, the Evergreen Valley High School Club stepped up to the plate. In June of 2017, the EVHS Red Cross Club received the Teamwork Award from the Silicon Valley Red Cross Chapter for their amazing work during the San Jose floods.

Johanna Anup, a student at Evergreen Valley High School who serves as a Red Cross volunteer, describes her experience volunteering at the shelter.

What were your specific responsibilities?

To help set up for the shelter, the other youth volunteers and I took on the roles of setting up and taking down cots and laying out the food. When people started arriving, we assisted them to whatever they needed so that they could feel as comfortable as possible. For example, if someone wanted socks or blankets, we would retrieve it for them.

I enjoyed helping out at the shelter so much the first day that I ended up coming whenever there was a shortage of volunteers.

Can you describe your most memorable moment from volunteering at the shelter?

One of the people that I interacted with at the shelter was an older lady in a wheelchair. When she first came to the shelter she seemed agitated but I did the best I could to help her, wheeling her to the restroom and replacing her wet socks with a new pair.

Later on that day, the lady reached out to me and said, “I’m sorry for acting that way earlier, but I hope you can understand the situation I’m in.” It made me realize the impact of what I was doing and how important my role as a volunteer was. I had the opportunity to be there for someone in one of their most vulnerable moments and make it easier for them to cope with the situation.

Volunteering at this flood was the highlight of my sophomore year and given another chance to volunteer after a disaster, I would be willing to help out.

What was your biggest takeaway from this experience?

I just realized the importance of being there for other people in their times of need. You don’t know what they’re going through so just be patient and kind.

Was there anything that surprised you about this experience?

Usually my parents are pretty reluctant to let me go out too late at night. However, my parents were extremely supportive of me volunteering at the shelter, even when I stayed at the shelter until midnight one time.

What did you learn about the Red Cross?

I knew that the Red Cross helped out with disasters but I didn’t think that I could be such a huge part in it. It’s not something that only adult volunteers can help out with, especially since the disaster was so close to home.

Do you have any recommendations for other youth?

If you have the opportunity to help out and volunteer, definitely go for it. It not only benefits the people you are helping but also yourself. It makes you stronger and helps you grow as a person.

To learn more about how you can join Johanna and other Red Crossers in serving our communities, check out redcrossyouth.org!


Joanna Hu, National Youth Council Member, Chapter Working Group Lead


Category: Blog, News · Tags:

Comments are closed.

Volunteer Connection

Volunteer Connection