‘A call for humanity’: Long Island volunteers travel to Gulf Coast to help with Hurricane Laura recovery
Long Islanders headed to the Gulf Coast to help with relief efforts after Hurricane Laura left many without homes.
Lenia Kiki, of New Hyde Park, and a handful of Red Cross team members from Long Island headed to Louisiana. Kiki says she'll be there for at least two weeks.
"Everything is gone and they have to start from zero. It is very heartbreaking," she says.
Kiki also says COVID-19 has made it more challenging to coordinate relief efforts.
"Most of our meetings and everything we are doing is online, that is also a challenge...we cannot gather with so many people in the car, only two people, one is driving and other in backseat," she says.
Despite these health and safety protocols, Doug McNally, of Northport, felt it was important to physically be there for the people in the Gulf Coast.
He is a volunteer and disaster mental health specialist with the Red Cross. He flew to Louisiana Friday to work in a shelter.
"Our job is to just meet with them, to try and calm them down as best we can and to listen to them, to connect them with services that are available…and also to assess with those who maybe need referrals to additional treatment," McNally says. "The main thing is to just be with them and listen. That’s why I’m going in person, as opposed to a virtual deployment."
Both McNally and Kiki say it's important to be there for the people devastated by Hurricane Laura because there's been so many times others across the country have answered the call for help on Long Island.
"It is a call for humanity, I have to be here. I am healthy, active so I felt like I needed to come out and help people," Kiki says.