Idahoans pitch in to help hurricane victims


by Karen Zatkulak

Posted on October 30, 2012 at 9:49 AM

Updated Wednesday, Nov 13 at 4:26 AM

BOISE -- Hurricane Sandy continues to pound the East Coast with high winds and heavy rain.

The storm has shutdown mass transit in the Northeast.

More than 7,000 flights are grounded and the New York Stock Exchange is closed.

Boardwalks in New Jersey and Maryland are already damaged.

Many businesses from Virginia to New York are boarded up preparing for the destruction.

Once the storm moves through, the cleanup will be underway. Some Idahoans will be there to lend a hand.

“We expect power outages, and we expect this to be a large wind and rain event for the next several days,” said Ronna Waller.

Ronna Waller traveled from Lewiston, Idaho, all the way to White Plains, New York, on Saturday to help organize hundreds of Red Cross volunteers.

“The feel for folks, the mood is good, of course there is anxiety for the folks who have never been in a hurricane before,” said Waller.

She tells us both volunteers and evacuees at their shelter will most likely have to hunker down soon. For now, they're watching rain race inland, ahead of the 700-mile wide storm.

"If you live in Idaho, you've obviously not been in a hurricane if you've never been outside of that, and so certainly a little anxious when you start hearing that wind go through," said Waller.

Sixty-three-year-old Don Nesbitt also made the trip, from Mountain Home, Idaho to Edison, New Jersey, near the coast.

His job will be to feed those left homeless after the storm.

It's his first Red Cross deployment, and his first experience in a hurricane.

“From what I understand the worst is yet to come, it hasn't arrived yet,” said Nesbitt. “It's kind of controlled chaos in some ways, they are preparing as best they can for what's coming.”

He tells us through the nerves comes a calm knowing you're there for those who need you.

“The adreline high is being able to go and do and help, it's hard to put into words but it means an awful lot,” said Nesbitt.

Back in Idaho, the sacrifice is appreciated.

“It's very gratifying that we have these folks who will give up their own lives for two weeks,” said Red Cross communications director Barbara Fawcett.

One other Red Cross volunteer from Idaho is on the East Coast as well.

If you want to help locally, we're told blood donations are needed, since about a hundred blood drives had be to cancelled because of this storm.