Local Red Cross volunteers make final preparations before heading to Puerto Rico

Posted at 4:53 PM, Sep 22, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-22 17:44:49-04

Two teams from the American Red Cross Greater Chesapeake Region will head to Puerto Rico in the next several days.

They volunteers are going down there with no expectations of shelter, food, or water.

Rich Scanlan, is one of those volunteers. He said after 30 some deployments with the American Red Cross he doesn't get surprised anymore. He knows how to handle the unexpected.

“’Hi, I'm having a baby. My medication, I can't find my medication, my insulin,’ it just runs the gamut. From A to Z you're basically taking care of grandma times 500,” said Scanlan.

And he loves doing it.

“Keeping everyone spirits up, sheltering can be a really hard job, it's my favorite,” Scanlan said.

As a shelter manager, Scanlan has the assignment of taking care of people who sometimes just lost all of their belongings.

“One minute you got everything you got and the next minute you don't even have an ID,” said Scanlan.

He saw a lot of that in Texas. Three weeks ago, Scanlan was managing a shelter there that housed around 500 people that had all been evacuated from their homes.

“The first couple of days when you open a shelter, you've got a phone on each ear and two people talking to you and two people waiting to talk to you but once you get through that you only have to keep one phone on your ear. It's challenging, really challenging,” said Scanlan.

Scanlan is now readying himself to do it all over again, this time in Puerto Rico.

The two four-person teams with the greater Chesapeake region will help provide people in Puerto Rico with essential items including food, water, water purification, a roof over their heads, a cot to sleep on.

“There's not many jobs with the Red Cross that when you actually go out on something like this, you get to connect with the people that are directly affected and I think that's where I get most of my satisfaction,” said Scanlan. “You know, I'm actually handing them something, sitting down on a cot talking to them, or they'll come up to you with a problem and you're able to solve it.”

This is Scanlan's third trip in almost as many months. First, he was in Canada helping people affected by the wildfires. Then he went to Texas after Harvey hit, and next to Puerto Rico to deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.

The American Red Cross Greater Chesapeake Region also deployed some staff to the Florida Keys on Thursday.

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