By Ashley Graves
The Cullman Times
To Tia Barclay, home never felt so good.
After two weeks away from home, the local Red Cross volunteer returned Wednesday after an extended stay in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast helping those in need recover from Hurricane Sandy.
“It was nice sleeping in my own bed for a change,” she said.
While there, Barclay spent the majority of her time in the town of Seaside Heights, NJ, distributing hot meals, water, and other items to those who were unable to get out. At times, she said it wasn’t uncommon for the group to hand out up to 1,200 meals for dinner. Despite other media reports coming out of the area, she added everyone in the area was grateful for the work being done.
“Zero percent of the people we were feeding food to said anything bad,” Barclay said. “It was all positive things. The people of New York and New Jersey were very appreciative of what we were doing.”
There were a few challenges along the way though, including maneuvering the streets.
“The first couple of days were hard,” Barclay said. “We were at the mercy of our GPS for our routes because roads were closed, so that was a challenge.”
And then came the shortage of gas.
“I’m so thankful for the good partnership Red Cross had with the law enforcement there because they allowed us to cut line and get what we needed so that we could get back to work.”
Despite the long days and hours logged, Barclay said her first trip as a volunteer was an overall good experience.
“I was happy to get the chance to do the service I was recruiting people to do last year,” she said.”
Barclay was one of five local volunteers to travel to the New York and New Jersey area. Currently, two are still there, while Denise McClendon recently left to head to the area for the second time for another two week stint. Barclay said there is a chance she could head back, but it would be after the Thanksgiving holiday.
Anyone wanting to help with relief efforts through the Red Cross can visit www.redcross.com, call 1-800-REDCROSS, or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 on your cell phone to make a $10 donation. Contributions may also be sent to the local Red Cross office at 107 2nd Avenue NE, Cullman, AL 35055.
Ashley Graves can be reached by phone at 734-2131, ext. 225, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org