First Corridor Red Cross volunteers back from Hurricane Recovery
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (CBS2/FOX28) – He helped coordinate the mass casualty scene and counsel first responders at Ground Zero on 9-11, His teams provided assistance to thousands after Hurricane Katrina and after the tsunami which killed more than 30,000 in Sri Lanka he helped the nation deal with the monumental task of handling so many bodies and so much grief. Red Cross Disaster Team Member Peter Teahen is now just back from his latest journey working in the Florida Keys. While the bulk of the state escaped without the catastrophic damage feared, islands including Big Pine Key saw incredible devastation.
Teahen says his team faced unique challenges, from the 95-degree heat which sent several volunteers to the hospital, to the mountains of debris and downed trees that blocked efforts to move food and water to victims. One team member even found a survivor trapped in the rubble, days after Hurricane Irma had passed. Teahen says they also found an illegal immigrant population, numbering in the thousands, that was afraid to emerge from the shadows even for food and water, for fear of being deported. Teahen says tourism is the engine of the economy in the Keys and that means those who have lost their homes can’t be housed in hotels and essentially have no choice but to stay in shelters.
Even the Red Cross team had to set up its own camp of sleeping quarters, showers and dinning hall to make it possible for volunteers to do their work. Teahen says he slept in a car for several nights until facilities could be organized. He says unfortunately the residents of the central Keys have a long road ahead to recovery.