Area Red Cross Volunteers Heading To The Gulf Coast For Hurricane Assistance

By: Brad Broders
By: Brad Broders

"This is a privilege to do it, and be asked to do it," Elaine Schlichting said.

At an age where most are retired and relaxed, 72-year-old Elaine Schlichting and 73-year-old Shirley Toepfer are anything but. On Thursday, these longtime Stockton friends are leaving to help out in the heart of Hurricane Katrina's catastrophic destruction.

"It's exciting, like she said, it's an adrenaline rush once we get down there and get busy, it will be common," Toepfer said.

Schlichting and Toepfer will work 12 hours days for two weeks at a Red Cross Mississippi shelter, providing basic services - food water and shelter - along with Stateline compassion.

"They call you at the busiest time, and you cancel out everything, and you say, "yes I can do that," Schlichting said.

This won't be the first disaster relief trip for Schlichting and Toepfer. Last year, both assisted in Hurricane Frances and Charley. However, they admit Katrina's unprecedented devastation will likely make this relief effort far more daunting - and stressful.

"People are scared down there, they don't know what's going to happen, they don't know if they have a home or not. I think this will be a harder one," Toepfer said.

"Last year in Florida we were kind of on the tail end of it, because people were starting to get their electricity, and so they weren't so desperate and despondent," Schlichting said.

The American Red Cross' northwest Illinois chapter, which covers Stephenson, Jo Davies and Carroll Counties, has four volunteers scheduled to head to the gulf coast in the coming days.

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