Sharon Township resident Tom Quinn, 70, boarded a plane Wednesday headed to the Raleigh/Durham area of North Carolina as a volunteer for the American Red Cross.
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In the face of the monster storm churning toward the Eastern Seaboard, Medina County natives either are taking the initiative to leave the area or are hunkering down to brace for the impact of Hurricane Florence.
But Sharon Township resident Tom Quinn is heading to the storm area.
On Wednesday afternoon, Quinn, 70, boarded a plane headed to the Raleigh/Durham area of North Carolina as a volunteer for the American Red Cross. Quinn is one of 16 disaster workers from Northeast Ohio volunteering for the disaster relief operation. There, he will manage one of 22 shelters the Red Cross is opening in the hurricane area.
“My job is to take care of the people, make sure the meals come in to feed people three times a day and make sure other volunteers are following the shelter rules,” he said.
This is Quinn’s sixth deployment, having seen the force firsthand of storms likes Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma in Texas and Puerto Rico. Both brought widespread devastation once they made landfall with torrential rains and powerful winds. Florence, which according to the National Weather Service could make landfall as early as Friday afternoon, is expected to bring much of the same.
That makes the presence of people like Quinn much needed.
“I would go to any place the Red Cross needs me,” Quinn said in a telephone interview from Cleveland Hopkins International Airport. “I got to help people. The hurricanes don’t worry me.”
Quinn said his shelter will house about 100 people in a school gymnasium or community center.
Collectively, the Red Cross is preparing to assist up to 100,000 people in North and South Carolina and Virginia, according to the latest figures from the organization. More than 1,600 people spent the night Tuesday in 36 Red Cross and community shelters in South Carolina and North Carolina.
More than 1,500 Red Cross disaster workers are on the ground, including 16 from Northeast Ohio. Additional Red Cross volunteers from Northeast Ohio are standing by, waiting assignment to the disaster relief operation.
Highland High School graduate Alana Jaroska said despite living outside the mandatory evacuation zone, she elected not to wait on Florence to come barreling into South Carolina.
“I voluntarily left,” said the 20-year-old. “Coastal closed campus for Tuesday to the end of the week and I found a cheap flight so I figured it would be a good opportunity to fly home for the week.”
Jaroska, of Medina, attends Coastal Carolina University in Conway, S.C., where she is studying animal behavior.
Based on the predictions of forecasters, Jaroska said she anticipates fallout from the storm on campus.
“NOAA has suggested that Hurricane Florence will turn to South Carolina when it makes landfall, which would make it hit near CCU and where I live at Aspen Heights, so it could be more devastating than what was first expected,” she said. “This makes me happy that I decided to come home even when it wasn’t going to be this bad.”
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