While everyone else was attempting to get as far away from Ocean City, Maryland as possible, Trent Smith was heading straight toward the danger.
According to NBC News, Smith, who was with a team from Indiana, was just one of the hundreds of volunteers, doctors, firefighters, paramedics, and other emergency personnel converging on the East Coast to help devastated areas with rescue and recovery efforts.
According to Smith, it took him and 14 other emergency personnel more than four hours to make the 135-mile drive to the coast, all the while dealing with flooded roads and 50 mile-an-hour winds.
Smith and his group arrived at 5 pm, just before the storm made landfall up the coast.
“We were basically the last vehicle to come in off of the interstate before they shut it down,” said Smith.
Smith and his team were assembled by Indiana’s Department of Homeland Security. They will have many sleepless nights ahead of them, but Smith believes that the work will have it’s own rewards.
“The vast majority of people that work for (the) department do this because they have this internal feeling that ‘I want to help,’” said Smith, who normally works as a public information officer for the Indiana state police.
Smith has responded to other disasters including Hurricane Katrina.
Most of the people who are helping the East Coast with the recovery are, like Smith, part of organized groups coordinating with the American Red Cross, government agencies, and other aid organizations. However, there are some people that are heading out on their own, driven by a desire to help.
Kristoffer Strayhorn is a volunteer firefighter from Washington state. He is among those people who just wanted to get to the disaster zone in order to see what they can to help.
The American Red Cross has 1,700 disaster workers from across the country helping with the recovery efforts, and spokeswoman Anne Marie Borrego said that the agency wasn’t looking for any more volunteers at this point.
Even though volunteers are not needed at this time, Borrego said that there are plenty of other things that people can do to help.
The Red Cross is currently taking donations to help with the effort. In addition the cash donations, The Red Cross is looking for people who can donate blood. They need blood because The Red Cross had to cancel about 300 blood drives in the area due to Hurricane Sandy.
“What we really could use is blood donations,” Borrego said.