Valley Red Cross volunteers face uncertainty with Sandy
Cell phone video captured the hardship and horror Blanca Gonzalez witnessed after her deployment from Brownsville to Louisiana as a Red Cross volunteer following Hurricane Isaac in September.
"We saw how bad it was," she explained. "The flooding was up to the roof. There was nothing. There were no people. It was like dead. There were coffins and stuff on the levee and trucks and houses in the middle of the street."
Blanca fears she'll encounter conditions only worse when she leaves this week to join 4 other Red Cross volunteers who already left the Rio Grande Valley to provide Superstorm Sandy relief in the Northeast.
The 17-year veteran volunteer had her flight cancelled on Sunday.
Blanca believes she'll be working at a shelter in New York, New Jersey or Virginia when she leaves as early as Wednesday once flights in the region resume.
"I'll make sure that they have their comfort kits, beds and food and you know and make them feel comfortable," she explained.
Red Cross volunteers like Blanca leave their friends, their families and their lives behind.
For many the calling provides a sense of fulfillment, but it does eliminate the fear of the unknown that's always in the back of their minds.
Janet Martinez, an emergency services specialist for the South Texas Chapter of the American Red Cross, says she'll worry about her 1-year-old son who she'll be forced to leave behind.
"This is my job and I have to go out and help other people," Janet explained. "But that's my reservation, my fear; if something happens I'm the only parent."
Janet's parents will be assisting her.
The deployments to Sandy-stricken areas could be for two weeks or longer.
Both will have to put their personal lives on hold and endure the same conditions as those in shelters who typically must use cots and porta-potties.
But for Janet and Blanca, it's not about themselves.
"My goal is to make the feel at ease," Blanca said.
For them it's about helping people touched by tragedy.