Tahlequah Daily Press

November 1, 2012

Veteran volunteers for hurricane relief

By TEDDYE SNELL
Staff Writer

TAHLEQUAH — When Superstorm Sandy made landfall on the East Coast Monday, area U.S. U.S. Marine Corps veteran Scott Youngblood considered it a call of duty.

Youngblood, who attends classes Northeastern State University, also volunteers for the Tulsa chapter of the American Red Cross, which serves Cherokee and Adair counties. Last year, he was recognized as Volunteer of the Year for what was then an 18-county jurisdiction.

“I’m in Baltimore [Wednesday] morning, but am leaving for Delaware here pretty quick,” said Youngblood in a telephone interview. “We start from there and work our way down the coast.”

Youngblood left Tulsa at 6 a.m. Sunday, flew into to Philadelphia, rented a car and drove straight to Baltimore.

“We opened a shelter in Laurel, Md., Sunday night so we’d have place to ride out the storm,” he said. “But we closed it [Tuesday], as it wasn’t necessary.”

Youngblood’s team will be responsible for damage assessment – a job for which he has vast experience.

“Normally, I cover Cherokee and Adair County by myself and work out of the Tulsa Chapter Red Cross,” he said. “When I’m home, I work every house fire [in those two counties]. Out here, obviously we’re working hurricane damage assessment. We’ll try to give information back to the agencies that need it about houses that have been destroyed, and roads and bridges that are out or compromised. We’re going to areas that no one has visited yet.”

According to Youngblood, his volunteer team will be working for a minimum of two to three weeks.

Ryan Hardaway, Tulsa Chapter American Red Cross Service Center director, said the agency is providing help and comfort to people in communities across the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast who are coping with the aftermath of the storm.

“Our relief effort stretches across several states, and includes food, shelter, relief supplies and comfort for people dealing with this storm,” said Hardaway. “The Red Cross has opened more than 100 shelters across several states, and has deployed more than 1,300 disaster workers to the region to help those affected. We have sent in as many as 160 emergency response vehicles, shipped hundreds of thousands of meals and will be providing people with other relief supplies in days to come.”

Youngblood said that after having been in the area for a couple of days, he has observed that donations are badly needed.

“They have plenty of clothing,” said Youngblood. “What’s really needed are financial donations.”

Hardaway said it could be days, or even weeks, before the Red Cross has a cost estimate for the disaster.

“What we do know is that the Red Cross response to Sandy will be costly due to the widespread region the storm impacted,” said Hardaway. “We need your help now.”

When Youngblood served in the Marines, he sustained disabling injuries, yet he still heeds the call to serve.

“I am a firm believer that when you help people, you win every time,” said Youngblood. “You’re never going to lose. I do this for the people I help. The Red Cross is just the vehicle.”