Port Edwards mother, firefighter volunteering with Red Cross in Baton Rouge

Published: Aug. 28, 2020 at 10:33 PM CDT
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PORT EDWARDS, Wis. (WSAW) - For Port Edwards resident Tanya Schulz, helping others is just a part of who she is.

The 41-year-old mother of five signed up to be a Red Cross volunteer in 2017, her first deployment taking her to Texas to help assist with the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.

“I went down as a caseworker to help people that didn’t have immediate resources to get housing and get out of the shelters,” explained Schulz. “I got into firefighting after my first deployment with the Red Cross.”

Now a volunteer firefighter with the Port Edwards Fire Department, Schulz is taking a two-week hiatus from helping Wood County residents to lend her efforts in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, volunteering again for the Red Cross following the destructive Hurricane Laura.

“I’ll be doing damage assessment,” said Schulz while talking to NewsChannel 7 on a Zoom call, waiting for the final flight that would take her to Baton Rouge. “That helps them plan for resources that they need to bring into the area.”

The information Schulz provides will help officials like Wendy Savage, executive director of the Red Cross’s northcentral Wisconsin chapter, determine how many people are needed to be sent from our region to assist in the cleanup efforts.

Savage says not only are they having to deal with the destruction that comes along with a major natural disaster, but volunteers are having to be mindful of COVID-19 as well.

“We have a lot of protocols in place,” Savage said. “We’re going to make sure that people are wearing masks and they’re doing distancing; cleaning; hand sanitizer and wearing gloves. We’re going to be very, very careful about that for the safety of our volunteers and the people that we’re serving. We don’t want to add to the disaster.”

Savage says in the coming days it will be decided how many teams will be sent to help with the cleanup efforts, noting they already know the damage is extensive.

“We know there’s at least 8,000 homes that have been impacted right now,” Savage said. “There are about 900 to a thousand volunteers in the field right now, but the situational awareness is really important, right now, before we decide who goes, how many go and where they go to.”

Making the work Schulz will be doing over the next two weeks even more important, and while she says being away from her family and friends can be challenging, she leans on them to get her through the tough moments.

“It’s not easy. It’s scary. You don’t know what’s going to be on the other side of the wall, the door when you get off the plane,” Schulz said. “That selfless giving is kind of my driving force. I have skills that, even though it’s not easy to use them all the time, it can be uncomfortable, intimidating; God blessed me with them and I’m willing and I’m available so I feel like it’s kind of my duty to do what I can.”

For those interested in becoming a Red Cross volunteer like Tanya, you can sign up here.

If you’d like to help with relief efforts but can’t volunteer, Savage says monetary donations are very important to helping feed those who have been impacted by the hurricane as well as providing other supplies. If you text ‘Laura’ to 90999 you will pledge $10 to the Hurricane Laura relief fund.

Copyright 2020 WSAW. All rights reserved.

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