PRINCEVILLE — After a 12-hour flight from Ohio and a three-hour layover in Honolulu Wednesday, Jan Dayton deboarded the plane at Lihue Airport and headed straight for the Red Cross shelter at Church of the Pacific in Princeville.
Despite the long flight, Dayton didn’t waste time getting to work manning her post. It’s not the first time the Red Cross volunteer has flown into danger.
“I’ve been with the Red Cross for 13 years and I deploy frequently and we knew this was going to be a bad situation,” she said.
Last year alone, she volunteered during eight events and, so far this year, she’s volunteered at four.
Dayton, a nurse, said the Red Cross always expects the worst but hopes for the best. But no matter what happens, they will be available to help those in need, she said.
Princeville resident Anna Meyers, who has volunteered with the Red Cross for two years and helped run the shelter in Hanalei during April’s historic flood, said she does this work to give back to the community.
“It’s a lot of work to deploy. These people who come from all over are sleep-deprived and they work really hard for the Red Cross. It’s really an amazing volunteer opportunity,” she said.
Meyers said she learned just how important it was to have a shelter in Hanalei that housed about 60 people.
“I learned how much Red Cross is needed for these shelters. I’m really happy that people come from all over to volunteer, but I’m really sad that more people locally don’t volunteer. We should have enough people to volunteer on the island,” she said.
Hurricanes are nothing new for Michael Lucey, shelter manager. The Houston man both survived and deployed during Hurricane Harvey last year, where shelters were operational for close to six weeks after the storm.
He flew in Wednesday to open the shelter at the Kilauea Neighborhood Center, which can house about 200 people.
American Red Cross shelters are also open at Kilauea School and Church of the Pacific in Princeville.
There are no other shelters being opened at this time. However, more shelters may be opened on an as-needed basis.
Officials advised all Wainiha-Haena residents to evacuate the area by Thursday.
Volunteering with the Red Cross and deploying is a good way to give back to the community, he said.
“I really enjoy sheltering because it’s actually very challenging. You have to come up with creative ways to solve problems to meet your clients’ needs,” he said.
During the Hurricane Harvey relief effort, Lucey helped operate two shelters for about 20 days. This is his fifth deployment.
“All of my previous deployments have been in the Texas Gulf Coast. We have a very active area, we get a lot of hurricanes and floods there. Most recently we had a mass casualty event in Santa Fe,” he said.
After Hurricane Harvey the community really came together.
“At the first shelter I was at, we were just overwhelmed with donations, and so the county opened a warehouse to collect all that and to distribute that,” Lucey said.
To see the full interviews with these shelter workers, please visit TGI’s Facebook page www.facebook.com/TheGardenIsland/?ref=br_rs
Bethany Freudenthal, crime, courts and county reporter, can be reached at 652-7891 or firstname.lastname@example.org.