Vermont Red Cross volunteers deploy to Gulf Coast for Ida recovery

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BATON ROUGE, La. (WFFF) — As crews survey the extent of damage from Hurricane Ida, volunteers from Vermont have been called to help with the recovery. Jessica Masten is one of four Vermonters heading to the Gulf Coast with the Red Cross of Northern New England.

For Masten, things are coming full circle. Fifteen years ago, her house burned down and the Red Cross was there. More recently, she lived in Puerto Rico when Hurricane Maria made landfall. “I know what it feels like to lose everything and not know what’s next,” she said. “I just want to bring a little bit of peace to these people.”

Masten will be a shelter associate, helping people reach a safe place to stay and ensuring they have access to basic necessities. Communities are dealing with extreme flooding, power outages, and thousands of displaced residents.

“When I saw the American Red Cross, I had a feeling of relief,” she said. “It was just a—’things are gonna be OK. The help is there.’ That’s what I want, I want to be that person that people see and they can relax just a little bit.”

David Allen arrived in Baton Rouge on Friday, just before the storm hit. He’s previously helped after large fires and during Hurricane Florence. Now, Allen is using his business background to help determine the economic impact of this disaster. He says a lot of information is still coming in, as to where the damage is.

“There are areas that we can’t move into,” he said. “We have plans to set up kitchens, set up additional shelters, distribute supplies. It’s a moving target from a financial standpoint, in business, things don’t happen as quickly as they do in disasters.”

“It’s uncomfortable, it’s a bit of a sacrifice,” David Allen said. “But helping people is really what life is all about, right?”

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