'I have to go': North Carolina Red Cross volunteers head to Georgia following deadly storms

Jamiese Price Image
Tuesday, January 17, 2023
NC Red Cross volunteers head to Georgia
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Thousands are still without power and no resources to feed their family or shelter to sleep. But that's where the America Red Cross steps in.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Zonia Quero-Ziada doesn't mind helping a neighbor in need. Even if that neighbor is a few hundred miles away.

"I said, I have to go," said Quero-Ziada.

She's a Red Cross volunteer headed to another deployment after seeing the heartbreaking images of damage and destruction following the deadly tornadoes that ripped through the South, affecting communities in Georgia and Alabama.

"When I saw Selma, I mean, Selma, my heart broke," said Quero-Ziada, who had just visited the Alabama town several months ago.

"The tornadoes went through a straight line to many places, and Georgia was one of the ones hit as well," she continued.

Quero-Ziada, who has been deployed to at least 30 natural disaster sites, left for Georgia on Monday evening, where the powerful storms, uprooted trees, leveled buildings and destroyed homes leaving hundreds of families with nothing.

Thousands are still without power and no resources to feed their family or shelter to sleep. But that's where the America Red Cross steps in and volunteers such as Quero-Ziada make a difference.

"The moment they see that Red Cross van, people start crying, people start applauding, they said, now we know we're going to be OK; the Red Cross is here. And I am just a tiny little piece of it. And it moves me to know that people are counting on me," Quero-Ziada said.

Barry Porter, the regional CEO of the Red Cross Eastern North Carolina said the Red Cross is focused on health, hunger and housing. When volunteers arrive in the affected communities, they will work to provide meals, set up shelters, and find resources to help get families back on their feet.

"We know that people have been physically impacted, there were injuries and loss of life. Second, then is the need for hungry people, power's out, and over 6,000 families in the Georgia area that was affected are still without power. So needing food distribution supplies and materials distributed to them," Porter said.

The CEO also explained how emotional support is just as important as the resources volunteers are providing

"Disaster mental health and resiliency can be just as important sometimes as replacing something lost," Porter said.

Quero-Ziada and other volunteers found out firsthand about the power of emotional support to disaster victims after her first deployment to Louisiana following Hurricane Katrina.

"When everything else fell. I know a hug is very valuable," she said. "And I learned that during Katrina the value of a hug."