Headed for disaster: Utah women volunteer to help Hurricane Ida victims

Local News

MURRAY, Utah (ABC4) – As with every natural disaster, Utahns are stepping up to help the victims in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida.

On Tuesday, two volunteers from the American Red Cross loaded up to head to south Louisiana.

Shelley Smedley and Kay Stevens don’t know each other but they were about to embark on a cross-country adventure together: two to three weeks in a disaster zone serving hot meals to victims of Ida. When Smedley saw the devastation on TV Sunday, she made up her mind.

“I just decided I can sit here on my nice comfy couch in my nice little home and watch this and feel really bad for these people,” she said. “And then I just thought ‘Or I can go out for two weeks, three weeks, help ’em out, and then I still get to come back to my comfy couch but they don’t have one to go to.”

Both women have done this type of work before and know what they’re heading into.

“People there are just in shock,” Stevens said. “They don’t know how much they’ve lost. They don’t know where to go or what to do. It’s just chaotic right now…I don’t feel you should just sit around and feel bad about it. Go do something. Go help people. Go help people on the streets.”

That’s what five members of Utah Task Force 1 are doing down there now. Mike Ulibarri, Wade Russell, Keith Bevan, Embret Fossom, and Keith Plagemann have been in Louisiana since Saturday as part of a FEMA Incident Support Team conducting search and rescue operations.

Now Smedley and Stevens are on their way in a Red Cross Emergency Response Vehicle.

“I’m just glad I can go down there and do something this time,” Smedley said. “It’s pretty helpless to sit there and watch it all weekend and not be able to help and I’m grateful that I have this avenue to help people.”

Smedley and Stevens expect to arrive in Baton Rouge on Thursday then get assigned out to serve those much-needed hot meals in different storm-ravaged areas.

To donate to the American Red Cross’ Hurricane Ida Disaster Relief Fund, go to: https://www.redcross.org/donate/hurricane-ida-donations.html/

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