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Southwest Virginia woman returns after three weeks providing disaster relief in Maui

Relief organizations from across the United States are rallying to aid those affected by the devastating fires in Maui, and one Roanoke woman has recently returned from a three-week deployment with the Red Cross, where she played a crucial role in delivering resources and assistance to residents.

Danielle Englund, a dedicated Red Cross volunteer, received the call to deploy to Hawaii on August 10, and within a day, she was on a plane heading to the fire-stricken region. During her deployment, Englund often worked grueling 12-hour days, coordinating efforts between Red Cross and local volunteers to ensure that the necessary resources reached those in need.

Englund shared her profound experience, saying, “It is an absolutely heartbreaking and yet heartwarming experience at the same time, and it was something that I’m so grateful that I had the opportunity to do.”

Englund had the chance to meet numerous individuals who had endured unimaginable hardships. Despite their own suffering, these resilient people stepped forward to assist their neighbors and even strangers. She was deeply moved by their determination to help others.

Reflecting on her deployment, Englund emphasized how it had given her a new perspective on her own life. “It’s such a humbling opportunity to be able to go into this place and say, ‘Use me how you need me, let me help you however you need my help, whatever that looks like for you, and you change me.'”

Jonathan McNamara, representing the Red Cross of Virginia, highlighted their ongoing efforts to provide essential supplies, medical care, and mental health resources to the people of Hawaii. McNamara emphasized that the road to recovery would be long, spanning not just months but likely years.

He stressed the importance of tailoring their response to the specific needs of the local community, working closely with local leaders and community members. “Every disaster and every event is unique, so in this community, finding out exactly what the long-term needs are from them so that the Red Cross response can evolve over time,” McNamara explained.

McNamara also urged the need for volunteers on a local level. The Red Cross is actively seeking more volunteers in Virginia to not only support local communities but also contribute to disaster relief efforts nationwide.

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