Central Pennsylvania Red Cross volunteers describe deployment to hurricane-impacted areas

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HARRISBURG, Pa. -- American Red Cross volunteers from Central Pennsylvania have spent weeks in various parts of our country, assisting hundreds of thousands of hurricane victims.

Some of them are still deployed, providing relief to areas impacted by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

Hurricane Harvey devastated Texas and a number of neighboring states, with winds more than 100 mph and catastrophic flooding. Central Pennsylvania Red Cross volunteers, deployed to Texas, share their experiences from Houston via Facetime.

"What we see on the news and all of the Facebook pictures that we see, but here on the ground it's a little more devastating than what we actually see," said Shamin Jiwa-Cassam. She's a volunteer from Warwick Township.

"Every house, you drive by you see all of their belongings in the front yard. Their houses are gutted. People have lost everything," described Kim Maiolo. She's the communication's director of the Red Cross of Central Pennsylvania.

It's Maiolo's first disaster relief deployment. She's inspired by the resilience of the people she's met.

"How they're able to cope is amazing. There's so many people who lost everything, but they are getting back on their feet," she said.

Volunteers also in awe of one another and the services the hundreds of men and women have provided.

"Everyone coming together, working all hours of the night and morning," said Cassam.

"An incredible operation going on here. We have people from all over the country at the top of their game that know what they're doing. This is a well-oiled machine," added Maiolo.

"It's just an absolute level of fulfillment that I wouldn't get from anything else," said Jon Glenn of the American Red Cross Armed Forces Service.

Glenn returned to Central Pennsylvania after helping families impacted in Coastal Georgia by Hurricane Irma.

"I couldn't imagine doing anything but working in the Red Cross and providing services to the community during times of need," said Glenn.

There's nearly 5,500 Red Cross Disaster Workers currently deployed for Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, and Maiolo says so much more work is still needed to be done to help those impacted.

"There's hundreds of thousands of people who still need our help. It's a long road to recovery. Please continue to support us," she said.

Governor Wolf announced that 8 employees with the Department of Human Services deployed to Texas to help victims recover, and officials with the Red Cross tell me more than 2,400 workers are responding to Irma and Maria now, with another 350 additional volunteers on the way.

The best way you can help the Red Cross with disaster relief is to make a donation on their website.