The crippling storms that wreaked havoc on wide swatches of the South this spring are the worst that veteran Red Cross volunteer Susan Hassmiller, senior nursing adviser for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has ever seen. “And I've been to Katrina, I've been to Biloxi, I've been to hurricanes in Florida," she recounted in a May 11, 2011, interview in The Times.
Hassmiller, who has 36 years with the Red Cross, was one of thousands of volunteers (a handful from Central New Jersey) to answer the call for help in the aftermath of tornadoes and now widespread flooding in Mississippi, Tennessee, Arkansas and Louisiana.
Her nursing skills are being deployed in northwest Alabama as part of an integrated care team that includes a mental health counselor and case worker, going house to house to check on residents.
Given the high cost for the Red Cross to respond to multiple tornadoes, flooding and other disasters—estimated at $31 million—Hasmiller implored people to donate money to the relief efforts in the South. Recalling that it was just March that people opened their wallets after Japan’s earthquake and tsunami, Hasmiller said now "our own countrymen here are really in desperate straits."