Six volunteers from county help Midwest flood victims

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By Jenny Hartley

Six Lancaster County residents are helping those in flood-ravaged areas of the Midwest pick up the pieces in the aftermath of severe storms and torrential rain.

Sheryl Ferguson, a nurse, returned to Lancaster from Madison, Wis., on Wednesday. She stayed on the move, going to different areas, checking on residents and advising people to take tetanus shots.

She did blood-pressure checks and spoke to residents about other medical and emotional needs.

"I went everywhere in the world up there," Ferguson said. "I saw Wisconsin up close and personal. I had a woman break down in my arms and I cried with her."

Ferguson, 46, volunteered for the Red Cross in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. She said she was amazed by the Midwesterners' positive attitudes and cooperation.

Even though many people were devastated by the floods, many still found the time to do things for the Red Cross workers. One person baked muffins for the volunteers, Ferguson said.

"Those people stuck together and worked together," Ferguson said. "They're independent, self-sufficient people."

Joe Catledge volunteered as a client case worker in the Indianapolis area. He assisted flood victims by getting them Red Cross debit cards and helping them with other immediate needs.

Four residents are still helping out in the Midwest.

Jim Garrison is driving an emergency response vehicle for the Red Cross, delivering kits residents may use to clean up their flooded and muddied homes. The kits include brooms, mops, bleach, trash bags and rakes.

Richard Knight is in Cedar Falls, Iowa, volunteering as a case worker and helping with outreach.

Cricket Harper is in Madison, helping to feed large groups of people who may be displaced from their homes.

Robert Summers is also in Madison, driving an emergency response vehicle.

Summers has a feeding unit set up at Reedsburg High School in Wisconsin, near the area where TV footage showed a large house coming loose from its foundation and flowing down a river.

"A dam burst and it just ruined everything," Summers said.

Things are getting better there, but volunteers may soon be deployed to a new location.

"They had a bad thundercloud and it rained 8 inches in Missouri last night," Summers said. "I don't know when I'll be home – it could be this weekend or another week or so."

As of Tuesday, the American Red Cross has provided more than 713,000 meals and snacks, distributed more than 40,000 clean-up kits and processed more than 7,500 client cases since the floods.

To volunteer for the American Red Cross, call the local office at 283-4072.

Contact senior reporter Jenny Hartley at jhartley@thelancasternews.com or (803) 283-1151