West Michigan Red Cross, Life Care Ambulance volunteers head east for disaster relief

West Michigan Red Cross, Life Care Ambulance volunteers head east for disaster relief. (WWMT/Contributed)

West Michigan first responders continue to make their way to the East Coast to support millions of people who could end up without basic needs due to damage from Hurricane Florence.

Nancy Kowalski, a Red Cross volunteer for more than 50 years, has arrived at a staff shelter in Williamsburg, Virginia after driving hundreds of miles with her husband from Kalamazoo.

"We're going to weather the storm here and it could be as long as Monday. We're all just pacing the halls. We're used to being busy and we can't go out and feed right now," Kowalski said.

Kowalski will help serve food in disaster areas after the storm hits using a special Red Cross Emergency Response Vehicle (ERV).

"Once the work starts it will be very intense for a couple of weeks for the rest of our deployment. so just getting some rest until that happens," she said.

Meantime, Pride Care Ambulance CEO and paramedic Bill Mears left Portage on Thursday and is on the road to Spartanburg, South Carolina.

"This is my sixth deployment. I'm excited. I've enjoyed every one that I've been to. We've gotten to help a ton of people," Mears said.

He will join dozens of other ambulance crews from across the country who are arriving on the East Coast to assist local 911 services.

"In addition, we'll also expect to do some repatriation. So, once we move people out of the disaster zone we eventually need to bring them back where they need to be," Mears said.

The support is in place and now, the waiting game begins.

Kowalski said she and her husband expect to be on the East Coast for weeks.

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