Superstorm volunteers deployed [UPDATED]Published 11:12am Thursday, November 1, 2012 Updated 11:18am Thursday, November 1, 2012
A couple from Fergus Falls are no strangers to disaster.
Sonja and Rich Johnson were on ground zero for hurricanes Katrina and Rita helping to rebuild homes. When the call came from the American Red Cross for help with Superstorm Sandy relief, they did not hesitate to offer assistance.
“We’ll be driving an Emergency Response Vehicle from Fargo to New Jersey,” said Rich. “This time we’ll be distributing food, water and comfort kits to people who are affected by the storm, and go wherever we are needed.”
The Johnsons are a picture of regular folks doing extraordinary work. Rich is a former Otter Tail Power employee. Sonja worked in banks and with local schools. Though they have gone through Red Cross screening and training, they say the biggest pre-requisite is a desire to help.
“We always said when we retire we will volunteer,” said Sonja. “I can’t explain the rewards we feel- people are so appreciative of the help.”
Previously the couple volunteered through Crossroads Church to help with Hurricane Katrina relief, and traveled to New Orleans at their own expense to work on constructing and repairing homes.
“We brought several handmade quilts from the church,” said Sonja.
“I’m a tough guy, but seeing an old lady clutching one of those quilts after she had lost everything was very touching,” said Rich. “Volunteer. Especially if you are retired, have your health and have time.”
“People have all kinds of skills that are helpful in a disaster,” said Sonja. “Administrative, counseling, or even if you are just good with your hands like us.”
For information on helping those in need through the Red Cross, go to www.redcross.org.