Area volunteer helps hurricane victims

DAVISON — Years ago, Davison resident Marsha Robinson was working at the post office when a co-worker first suggested mentioned volunteering with the Red Cross.

It was an idea that Robinson, now 64, tucked away until retirement.

Today, Robinson is one of many Red Cross disaster responders on the East Coast helping to restore order in the New England states.

She arrived Aug. 26 and began working in Massachusetts, then New Hampshire, states that have been a vacation destination for her in the past.

“ When you go on vacation you do the touristy thing and now I’m right down in the neighborhoods that have been affected,” she said.

This week, Robinson anticipates being sent to Vermont to work in the mountainside towns affected by flooding rivers.

Currently Robinson is volunteering by assessing flood damage to area homes.

“I walk down the street and talk to homeowners,” said Robinson, who also takes a peek inside unoccupied homes to get an assessment of the damage.

While standing water over took streets and about a million homes were still without power last week, Robinson said “80 degree beautiful and sunny weather” from the eastern seaboard.

After six years of heading into weatherstricken areas, the aftermath of flooding is old hat to Robinson. To her estimation, she’s seen better and worse conditions.

“ They’re all in the same boat,” she says frankly. “ This is pretty typical.”

Since joining the Red Cross, Robinson has been shipped to 13 different states in emergency settings.

“My favorite that I worked at was the wildfires in California,” she commented.

Every time she is sent out to a new location, she’s assigned a different task. She can stay up to three weeks in an area, although, when she was sent to the aide of Hurricane Katrina victims in Louisiana, she stayed nearly a month.

Last month, Robinson was charged with overseeing and supervising a shelter in a flooded area of North Dakota. Her current title of damage assessor is one of her favorites.

“Even if it’s just talking calmly to someone I try to be as gentle and as comforting as I can,” said Robinson, who’s aware of the range of emotion that a resident can experience after a deadly storm.

The work doesn’t stop when Robinson returns to Davison. Here, she’s placed on a six-week rotating schedule. Locally, she responds to house fires and train evacuations.

Robinson says that volunteer work at the site of a disaster gives her a sense of accomplishment.

“ The best way to help them is to go into the communities and churches and start organizing,” she says.

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