Ron Saberton is a south Fort Myers residents and Red Cross volunteer who is in North Dakota helping flood victims. Betty Conley is from Fort Myers Beach and is a licensed health service volunteer. We asked them to write a blog about their day-to-day activities while aiding Americans in need more than 1,000 miles away. Check back daily for updates
Monday night, March 30
Betty Conley in Morehead, Minn.
The river is subsiding, but we don’t know when they’ll allow people to begin returning to their homes. This is my fifth day here. I’m working as a nurse at a school in Morehead and I’ve seen over 60 clients. We’ve had a little of everything but we’ve spent a lot of time calling drug stores to get prescriptions filled. Things are running very smoothly here. They planned for the worst, so we have a lot of staff. After eating cold sandwiches for days, today we received our first hot meal. The clients were super happy and so was the staff. I’m working 12-hour shifts. I had been staying in a truck stop motel 50 miles away, but we just received housing much closer. I’m enjoying myself a lot and enjoying the difference in culture. We have about 100 firefighters staying at the shelter, so that makes for a good time. We also have a few babies and several young children. Overall, we’re having a good time. I always like being deployed. Tell everyone down there hello for us.
4:30 p.m., Sunday, March 29
I’m really a small fish here in a big pond. There are hundreds and hundreds of people with many different service agencies here to help. From what I’ve seen, the Red Cross seems to be the “go-to” agency, but we’re all working together very well. I’m working at a school in Castleton, which is about 25 miles west of where the worst problems are. We had about 250 clients the first night and right now we’re working with about 100 people. This is largely a special needs center. A lot of preexisting issues have been exacerbated by the stress of the situation. The people are getting a lot of attention from us – a lot of preemptive conversations and some hugs. It’s an unusual circumstance and we’re trying to point out why things are difficult sometimes. It’s difficult to predict what’s going to happen next because there’s frozen water upstream and there are reports of a snow storm on the way. The people here are being taken care of very well. They’re all eating well – it’s all better than the food I cook. I’ve been out for about 48 hours and I’ve only had four hours of sleep. But there are a lot of enjoyable folks here with good attitudes which really help ease a lot of the fears.
Noon, Friday, March 28
Fargo, ND - It’s 14 degrees right now and I’d give that an “F”. There’s intermittent snow and the roads are covered in ice, making for very risky driving. Right now there are people loading a truck with supplies headed for people filling sandbags. There are about 300 Red Cross volunteers and they’re expecting maybe 900. It’s very windy, kind of like a hurricane but white and much colder. The wind is coming from all different directions. I’ve been assigned a vehicle and I’m headed about 25 north of Fargo to an affected area. I’m anticipating meeting a lot of distraught people who may be losing their homes. The Red Cross is right here, though. It’s very impressive. The attitudes of the people, their willingness to help is great. I don’t know where I’ll be sleeping tonight. Right now it’s minute by minute.