CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — A rash of tornadoes in mid-December left widespread devastation across several Midwestern states. Kentucky — technically just southeast of the Midwest — was hit particularly hard.
The American Red Cross in that state put out a call for help to chapters across the country. Eight volunteers from the Coastal Bend Chapter answered that call.
Artemis O'Conan is one of them.
“I think we’re having an impact," she said. "We’re part of the overall team here — the county, the state, FEMA, the federal government. We try to all work together to get these people back in the houses, back into the community."
O'Conan arrived in Kentucky on December 28, and she'll likely spend a total of two weeks there. It's time away from her pets and parents, but it's nothing new to them.
“I’ve been doing this for quite awhile," O'Conan said. "So my family is fairly used to me disappearing for two, three weeks or so and working a disaster.”
It's her fourth time working a disaster in the past several months.
O'Canon has also helped tornado victims in Orange, flood victims in Brownsville, and wildfire victims in California. And with wildfires devastating portions of Colorado right now, even more local Red Cross volunteers are deployed to assist in that disaster.
The executive director of the local chapter, Alex Garcia, says three of his volunteers are working on the ground there while a fourth is working remotely. He's proud of all of his volunteers — many of whom missed out on a portion of the holiday season at home.
“I had several that deployed before Christmas," Garcia said. "And when they’re willing to do that — to go give up their time, their time and their money to be there and support the mission of helping others and passing that on — I can’t tell you how grateful I am.”
There's no doubt disaster victims are grateful too.
The volunteers from the Coastal Bend are helping those people rebuild their lives — while some of them cope with lives lost in their families.
“There’s a high casualty rate on this (disaster)," O'Canon said. "I really regret that, because that’s something we can’t fix."
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