Carolyn Adams was living in Michigan in 2005 when Hurricane Katrina hit her home state. She came back to help out with the American Red Cross, and when she moved back to Louisiana for good in 2006, she reinvigorated her work with the local chapter.
After being deployed to disasters all over the country since 2010, from the wildfires in Texas to Hurricane Sandy on the East Coast, Adams was packing her bags once again Monday. This time, the 66-year-old volunteer is heading to South Carolina, where flooding is forcing people from their homes.
In all, 15 Louisiana residents are heading toward South Carolina to help in the unprecedented flooding the area has experienced in the past few days.
The volunteers are flying into Charlotte, North Carolina, and then driving to Columbia, South Carolina, where news reports show images of flooded roads, stranded cars and rising water, even as the rain is expected to taper off Tuesday.
“From there, we’ll find out where the most need is,” said Adams, who lives in Baton Rouge. “We just have to be real flexible.”
The National Weather Service says the event isn’t over yet as rivers are expected to remain at flood stage for several days. From Thursday through Sunday, areas of the state have received anywhere from 12 to more than 26 inches of rain, according to information from The Weather Channel, and the rain was still falling on Monday.
Almost 50 shelters have already been opened, said Nancy Malone, public affairs director with the American Red Cross in Louisiana. Of the volunteers going, seven are from Baton Rouge, two are from Lafayette, one from New Orleans, one from Alexandria, two from Shreveport and two from Monroe, she said.
Adams will be spending her two weeks as a shelter supervisor, which involves minimum 12-hour days that many times extend into 13, 14 or 15 hours at work each day, depending on what needs to be done and where the volunteers will spend the night.
However, Adams said, it’s all worth it because it does make a difference.
“It’s rewarding,” Adams said. “To me, it’s helping people. It just seems no matter what job I’ve had, I’m helping people.”
During their time in disaster areas, people often ask where she is from and seem to feel more comfortable when they hear Louisiana.
“They hear Louisiana and they say, ‘Oh my God, you can relate to what we’re going through,’ ” Adams said. “Everybody in the world knows about Katrina.”
Follow Amy Wold on Twitter, @awold10.