Connecticut volunteers go south to help people in need after Hurricane Matthew

H.V. Bailey looks at damage to a neighbor's home at Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., Saturday, Oct. 8, 2016, after Hurricane Matthew passed through Friday. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — In the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew, several volunteers from Connecticut are traveling to the south to help victims of the storm.

Last week, Red Cross volunteer Joe Apicelli headed south from New Haven, Connecticut to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. He is assisting people with immediate emergency needs. Apicelli described the urgent needs of families in southeastern states.

Right now people are hungry. There’s no electricity so there’s no way to prepare any meals. The basic need will be to get people fed and then we will assess when we can start bringing them bulk distribution cleaning supplies. Masks, gloves, racks, shovels, garbage bags etc.”

Safety for the volunteers is the number one priority because of the debris and the power outages. Volunteers have to be patient and wait for crews to clear the roads, so they can do what they’re trained for in the wake of a hurricane.

Apicelli added, “The water is still four to five to seven feet deep in some places so as soon as we can get through that area and clear the brush away and clear all the debris away we will be able to get in there and start serving people.”

Apicelli said volunteers have many challenges when responding to a disaster.

“Initially we are going to a number of shelters because the folks are not able to get through the roads because it’s all flooded and tree limbs are down everywhere.”

He also talked about the needs for those staying in shelters.

“In Myrtle Beach, it will be supplies. Food, water, snacks perhaps diapers for the children,” said Apicelli.

Volunteers are working eight hours or more a day. Emergency response vehicles are filled with ready-to-eat meals, comfort kits, and more.

Apicelli added, “The main goal for Red Cross is to close the shelters. We want those 1700 people out of the shelters as soon as possible and back into their residence so they can start the process of cleaning, disinfecting and rebuilding their homes.”

Apicelli said Red Cross volunteers are eager to help.

“We want to get in there and help the people. They are right now really struggling. It’s a very confusing time for them. The children aren’t sure what happened, the adults can process it but the children are real confused.”

Apicelli will be on assignment in the south for a few weeks or until he is needed.

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