Mich. Red Cross workers, volunteers respond to Matthew

Candice Williams
The Detroit News

On Thursday evening, Sarah Hemminger was making preparations to travel as she bought a pillow and paid her bills.

The Marquette resident wasn’t going on vacation. She’s among 32 Michigan residents heading to areas in and near Florida on behalf of the America Red Cross to help with relief efforts in the wake of Hurricane Matthew, which was threatening the U.S. Atlantic coast with potentially catastrophic winds of 130 mph Thursday.

“What I hope to get out of it is to give a little hope and alleviate some of that pain and suffering,” said Hemminger, adding that she also wants to help bring organization to a chaotic situation.

Hemminger, Red Cross disaster program manager for the Upper Peninsula, will serve as a shelter supervisor in Orlando for two weeks. She is among a number of local workers and volunteers heading to the coast.

Volunteers will focus on sheltering and feeding evacuated residents, said Ian Dyar, regional disaster officer for the American Red Cross Southeastern Michigan Chapter.

“They’ll be there through the storm,” Dyar said. “They’ll be there in the aftermath after the storms roll through.”

Volunteers will be on assignment for a maximum of three weeks.

American Red Cross volunteer Gail Deason, 64, of Sterling Heights plans to drive an emergency response vehicle to South Carolina on Friday. She’ll deliver snacks and food to shelters.

“This is just being able to help people realize they aren’t forgotten,” Deason said. “There are people who really do care about their well being.”

Representatives from DTE Energy and Consumers Energy said their utilities had not been called to assist with restoration efforts related to the hurricane.

Meanwhile, dozens of flights were canceled Thursdayfrom Detroit Metro Airport.

According to Flightstats.com, airlines including Delta canceled flights to Orlando, Fort Lauderdale and Miami.


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