Dozens of Connecticut volunteers in flood-ravaged Louisiana

Sgt. Brad Stone of the Louisiana Army National Guard gives safety instructions to people loaded on a truck after they were stranded by rising floodwater near Walker, Louisiana, after heavy rains inundated the region, Sunday, Aug. 14, 2016. (Max Becherer/AP)

(WTNH) — Connecticut volunteers were on the ground within days of the destructive floods in Louisiana. In the ten days since, the number of volunteers from our state is in the dozens from organizations like the Red Cross and AmeriCares. They’ve served thousands of meals and dispensed medical aid to those in need.

Less than two weeks ago, we met with Joe Apicelli, a veteran Red Cross volunteer from Waterford, as he prepared his emergency response vehicle for deployment to Louisiana.

“This is a feeding machine,” Apicelli said, as he inspected his emergency response vehicle in Waterford last week. “This truck can hold up to 350 hot meals, bottles of water, snacks.”

He’s now on the ground in flood-ravaged parts of south Louisiana. That feeding machine he manages is being put to the test. Apicelli told us they’re serving several thousand meals a day to those who’ve lost almost everything.

“We just sent out 19 emergency response vehicles in neighborhoods, serving 3,200 meals for lunch and dinner today,” Apicelli said.

President Obama toured the hard hit areas Tuesday, not far from where Apicelli is serving the needy. Obama pledged continued federal support after the historic rains and flooding.

“As anybody who can see the streets, much less inside the homes here, people’s lives have been upended by the flood,” Obama said.

At least 13 people have died and tens-of-thousands are displaced from their homes. Apicelli has been on 35 deployments for the Red Cross, but said he’s only seen worse conditions after Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy. While serving meals, he said they also provide psychological first-aid, and emotional support for the people of Louisiana.

“They’re just full of gratitude,” Apicelli said. “They’re just so happy with everything going on in their lives, they don’t have to worry about next hot meal.”

The Red Cross is labeling this as a Level 7 disaster, their highest designation. Click here if you’re interested to see how you can help.

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