RAHWAY, N.J. -- Susan Mitchell and Thomas Butler of Metairie know what it means to need a helping hand after a storm.
“The Red Cross has been there for us through a number of the storms when we needed feeding, when our power went out they were there,” said Susan Mitchell, a Red Cross volunteer. “So we appreciate that.”
They are part of the more than two dozen Red Cross volunteers from southeast Louisiana who are using their hurricane experience in New Jersey. They are helping feed thousands people affected by Hurricane Sandy and a Nor’easter, which hit the region overnight, dumping snow upon misery.
“When we talk to them and they realize from New Orleans, first of all they’re very thankful that we’re there,” Mitchell said. “And then we turn around and say thank you for coming to help us when we needed you. And we just tell them, hang in there. It’s going to get better. It’s just a matter of time.”
Kim Wilkins, a Rahway, New Jersey resident, said she was “done.”
“I have no more fight left in me. It’s too hard. Nobody should be able to live like this. I feel like I’m on Survivor,” she said.
Wilkins has been out of power for 10 days. She, her son and elderly mother spent Wednesday night in a hotel thanks to a friend.
But now, it’s back to a cold reality.
“We take a match and we light it, put a big pot of water on there, just to keep the kitchen area warm. Just to have some type of warm,” she said.
Her FEMA assistance application is pending, and Wilkins is growing increasingly frustrated with the delays.
“It seems like we can’t get no help. Did they forget us? I felt like we’ve been forgotten. This little area right here, we’ve been forgotten,” Wilkins said.
But Butler wants them to know they’re not forgotten, and that he shares their heartbreak.
“It’s just something about people suffering. It’ll get better though. We come up here in the cold, it ain’t cold in New Orleans,” he said. “But it’s going to get better for them. It’s going to take time, but it’s going to get better."
Waves of volunteers are expected to be coming in and out of the area for the next several weeks as the New Jersey and New York region grapples with the recovery from two storms.
If you would like to help, head to the Red Cross website.