The Altus Times interviewed Steve Grayson, Altus Red Cross volunteer, when he arrived home after his deployment to New York. He was there assessing damage to homes after Hurricane Sandy.
Altus Times: Is this the first time you’ve deployed for the Red Cross, Steve?
Steve Grayson: No, this was my 5th deployment this year.
AT: What are some of the things that surprised you when you arrived in New York?
SG: The amount of damage being reported through the Emergency Operations Centers.
AT: How did your experiences in the 2010-2011 ice storm help you understand the way the people felt after “Sandy”?
SG: As we were without power for several days during the Ice Storm, the residents in the affected area from Sandy were also without power and natural gas for several days. I was able to relate to some of their stories and frustrations, and hopefully provide some hope for them by telling them how we managed in Altus during the Ice Storm.
AT: In evaluating damage to homes there, in the areas you evaluated, roughly what percent of homes will need to be destroyed?
SG: About 15% of the homes that were assessed were considered destroyed.
AT: When you got a chance to speak with other Red Cross volunteers, did you find their experiences were similar to yours in dealing with the survivors of Sandy?
SG: We were doing Preliminary Damage Assessment. We did not enter any homes, and had little contact with home owners. We did occasionally stop to talk to residents in hard hit areas to ask if they had any immediate emergency needs, so we could relay that information to Mass Care for feeding and Bulk Distribution of items to assist in the recovery process.
AT: From what you learned this time, what will additional item you take with you on a deployment? What will you do differently?
SG: I have enough experience and training that I was well prepared when I arrived in New York.
AT: Has this experience changed how you look at life? If so, how and why?
SG: Not really. I hope that everyone has taken steps to put together a plan, and a Kit, to help prepare their families. Practice the plan. It may seem like a nuisance, but in the long run, families that do, have a good understanding of what to do, and what to expect.