SPOKANE, Wash. — A local Red Cross worker has been spending her time with the organization for more than a decade and is using personal experience from Superstorm Sandy to help out in the efforts for Tropical Storm Harvey.
Mary Nelson is supposed to retire next week but the job is keeping her busy as Red crosses across the country mobilize volunteers and send them to Texas to help with the aftermath of Harvey.
“Having never been retired before, I have a little trepidation. It was really hard saying that I'm going to end my regular time here at the Red Cross,” Nelson said. “However, I'm excited that I'll be a volunteer. I plan to be active here, and in positions where I can deploy.”
During her last week on the job, Nelson will be busy in her Spokane office, coordinating with other offices across the country as the Red Cross makes sense of the devastation in Texas.
“Immediately I got involved with our disaster action team,” Nelson said. “And then, the more you learn about the Red Cross, the more you want to do things for the Red Cross.”
Previously, Nelson was part of Red Cross teams that responded to Superstorm Sandy in New Jersey.
“We went right down to the devastation on the beach, and saw that. And, wow,” Nelson said. “Especially here because we don't have floods, so you don't think about stuff being erased. And stuff was just erased. So it was tough.”
Given Nelson’s experience responding to disaster areas, she gave some advice to the volunteers responding to Texas for the effects of Hurricane Harvey.
“Just be open-minded and flexible,” Nelson said. “Mental health is really a big deal. And it is hard to see these people going through things, and you do what you can but it still weighs heavy on you at times.”
Nelson said that she and her husband are ready to be deployed again whenever needed.