Angels in action at the Astumbo Gym storm shelter - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Angels in action at the Astumbo Gym storm shelter

Posted: Sep 13, 2018 5:02 PM +10:00 Updated:

We call them the ARC Angels, volunteers from the American Red Cross that spread their wings to help others in times of need. Victor San Nicolas has been a volunteer with the Guam Chapter of the American Red Cross for the past three years.

"My experience in the Red Cross has always been fulfilling every time we respond we're always helping someone," he shared.

San Nicolas was part of a team of volunteer caseworkers that set up a make shift office at the Astumbo Gym to begin initial discussions with the heads of  families left without a safe place to return home too. The team was led by volunteer Jeanne Woo from Los Angeles, California. Woo is with almost 20 other off island volunteers sent to Guam before Typhoon Mankhut blew through the Marianas.

Jeanne Woo, ARC Volunteer Los Angeles, said, "The Red Cross post landfall is trying to assess all the people that are in the shelter that are still displaced, wondering and trying to figure out why they can't return home. Our job is to get those initial assessments and see how the Red Cross can assist them."

Each family will be interviewed to determine how best to proceed with providing assistance. "Right now," added Woo, "it's too early to tell what kind of solution whether they need food lack of power, why they haven't returned. Their roof came on do they need tarps do they need nails so without having that conversation with roughly 300 residents, it's hard to say specifically."

The Red Cross in the meantime has already provided support in terms of meeting basic needs of the families.  Dave Peredo has been volunteering with the Guam Chapter since 1978. He is now the Guam Red Cross Disaster Program Manager, and said, "So initially what we're doing here is to make sure they're comfortable in this housing facility we're providing cots for the family so they can sleep comfortable."

The Red Cross will be set up at the Astumbo Gym for the next several days until everyone is interviewed. It's a process that Jesusa Contreras or Suzie is all too familiar with, she's been a volunteer for more than 20 years. "I've seen where everything is gone as a responder for Red Cross, because I've gone through a lot its heartbreaking," she said.

Aside from conducting their initial interviews here at Astumbo, a Red Cross team has also been deployed to Saipan, Rota, and Tinian conducting assessments.

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