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Flagstaff woman travels to Texas to aid storm recovery with Red Cross

(KTAR News 92.3 FM photo/ Ali Vetnar)

PHOENIX — Flagstaff resident Suzanne Martine boarded a plane on Monday as the Arizona Red Cross’ first volunteer to travel to Texas and aid in the recovery effort of deadly winter storms that recently hit the state.

Martine will start at a distribution center in Lufkin, Texas, helping more than 125 shelters provide cots, blankets, water and ready-to-eat meals to people in need.

She is entering a state where millions of people were left without power or suitable drinking water after the frigid storms overwhelmed power grids, with temperatures dipping into the single digits. The storms are blamed for 76 deaths – half of which occurred in Texas.

Prior to stepping foot on the plane, Martine was advised of the potential hazards including lack of services like heat and water.

Those hazards didn’t deter Martine because she was on the other side and needed the help of the Red Cross in 1997 when her family was directly affected by floods in North Dakota.

Martine and her sister went to a similar distribution center where she will be working in Texas after the floods in North Dakota, receiving cleaning supplies and household goods.

“I saw that side of it and I have this expectation that I get to provide that for somebody,” Martine said, adding this will be her first deployment as part of the Red Cross after recently retiring.

Along with providing the goods needed to recover from the floods, the Red Cross gave Martine and her family something desperately needed after a traumatic experience – a listening ear.

“The emotional support they gave as we were going through one of the worst crises in North Dakota at that time, they were just an ear to listen,” Martine said.

Now she will provide that same compassion to people who are in the same situation she was in 24 years ago.

“They might need the water, they might need the heat but sometimes they just need somebody to hear their story and see how you can help them,” Martine said.

While Red Cross spokesperson Jim Giloon said Martine is the organization’s first to be sent from Arizona to Texas, others are helping virtually.

He said volunteers are monitoring social media platforms directing people who need help to resources or, like Martine will do on site, lend emotional support.

The Arizona Red Cross is also sending food and cleaning supplies, according to Giloon.

He said those who want to help the recovery effort in Texas can text “REDCROSS” to 90999 for a $10 donation.

The Associated Press and KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Ali Vetnar contributed to this report.

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