Red Cross staff member from western Virginia continues to aid relief effort in Hawaii

Published: Aug. 28, 2023 at 7:51 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - Two weeks ago, American Red Cross staff member Danielle Englund left Roanoke to join the disaster relief effort in Hawaii. Since then, she has witnessed the destructive force of the recent wildfires, and the inspiring response of residents.

Englund left Roanoke Blacksburg Regional Airport August 11 to begin a three-week assignment in Hawaii.

She has been working with the 3,000 volunteers who have stepped forward, helping to get them trained to perform the tasks at hand.

“Like helping in a shelter, helping to feed people, helping to work in the warehouse, lots of different things that people can do,” Englund told WDBJ7.

Speaking with us from the shopping mall where the Red Cross set up its headquarters, Englund said she has seen the neighborhoods where wildfires destroyed everything in their path.

“Foundations and maybe some stone columns left and everything else is gone. Or maybe there’s nothing except for a vehicle and some power lines and you can tell that there used to be a house there. And that’s just so heartbreaking,” Englund said. “And then to have people come in and speak with me and say ‘I lost everything, but I want to volunteer. I want to help people.’ Man, it makes me emotional.”

Englund is the Regional Disaster Preparedness Manager here in Virginia. She will be returning to her job as the American Red Cross prepares for disaster relief in Florida as well.

“Not only do I need to go home to be with my family and have an opportunity to recharge myself after three very long and stressful weeks,” she said, “but I also need to get back to my regular job so that others who have not yet had an opportunity to go and support in these other places can do that.”

Englund said there was a shortage of affordable housing before the wildfires, and so relief agencies will be housing people in Hawaii for months to come.

She said she expects the American Red Cross disaster response to continue in Maui through Thanksgiving and perhaps even longer.