Two Harbors man assists with tornado recovery efforts in IndianaDestination: Kentucky. Two Harbors resident David Gearou left for Louisville last Wednesday. But unlike others who go there to vacation and relax, Gearou left to volunteer with victims of several tornadoes that struck the Midwest earlier this month.
Destination: Kentucky. Two Harbors resident David Gearou left for Louisville last Wednesday. But unlike others who go there to vacation and relax, Gearou left to volunteer with victims of several tornadoes that struck the Midwest earlier this month.
After arriving in Louisville, which is the Red Cross volunteer disbursement center, the Red Cross directed Gearou to work in Sellersburg, Ind. Although the tornadoes did not damage Sellersburg, people whose lives were permanently touched by the storms come there to put their lives back together.
Gearou said he’s working at a multi-agency place where different agencies or organizations each have their own room for clients to come in to talk and seek help. He says the people he meets also want to express their worries and concerns. “Sometimes they just need a shoulder to cry on,” he said.
Gearou’s job is to help fill out housing referrals for people who have had their homes severely damaged or have lost their homes altogether due to the storms. The referrals are sent to case workers who then try to find these clients housing.
“This woman who came in has a six month old baby. The house that the woman, her fiancé, and the baby was living in was destroyed. They’re now living in a place that the fiancé’s family owns, but there’s no water at the house which isn’t good for the baby,” Gearou said. “We’re working with them to try and get them into a hotel.”
Gearou will serve a two week volunteer commitment before he must figure out if he can stay longer or if he must go back home. He said that for now the Red Cross is going to have him stay in Sellersburg.
Helping others seems to be a lifelong trait of Gearou. He moved to Two Harbors three years ago after retiring from his job as the district chief of the fire department in Maple Grove, Minn. “We started going up 61 and found a home in Two Harbors that we liked,” Gearou said.
But he said after a year, retirement brought him one thing: boredom. Gearou brought his skills to the Northland Chapter of the American Red Cross and has been a Red Cross volunteer for two years. He works with damage recovery units and also acts as a government liaison representative and mass care and feeding volunteer. “I really enjoy helping other people,” he said.
Gearou credits his wife for being supportive and understanding of his volunteer work. Last year he traveled to seven different locations across the United States as part of the Red Cross. His latest volunteer commitment started last week when he received a phone call at 10 a.m. about the damage the tornadoes had caused. “I got to Kentucky at 10:30 that night,” he said.
Gearou says he plans to continue his volunteering with the Red Cross for the foreseeable future. “I think we’re making a difference,” he said.
According to the American Red Cross, dozens of tornadoes swept through Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, and Ohio earlier this month.
To help people affected by disasters like tornadoes and floods, you can make a donation to support American Red Cross Disaster Relief by visiting www.redcross.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767), or texting the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation. Contributions may also be sent to your the local Northland Chapter of the Ameircan Red Cross, 2524 Maple Grove Road, Duluth, MN, 55811.