“You’re an Angel,” said Ruth Johnson, a 97 year oldFayetteville, NC resident, to American Red Cross disaster volunteer, Kathy Brown. Ruth and Kathy first met days after a tornado hit Ruth’s home and caused severe damage.
On April 16th, Ruth was home alone watching TV when her normal programming was interrupted by a tornado warning. The reporter urged all viewers to immediately go to a safe place in the middle of their homes and duck for safety. Ruth did what she was told and grabbed her cat, Blackie, a chair, and proceeded to the hallway of her home for safety.
“Everyone says that a tornado sounds like a freight train, but this one was much worse – it was 50 times worse,” said Ruth. “It was unreal; all my life I’ve never heard anything like it. Blackie was going crazy and was very scared when the tornado hit.” Sadly, this scared moment was the last time that Ruth saw Blackie.
Moments later Ruth’s neighbors came running in her home to make sure she was okay. “Four gentlemen carried me out of my house and together we all walked down the street to safety,” she recalled. “I don’t remember the last time I walked a mile.”
Ruth stayed with a friend for over a week, and was able to return to her home nine days later. The very next day after she returned home is when she met her angel, Kathy. Kathy was on her normal food delivery route in the Red Cross emergency response vehicle. Kathy decided that she was going to going the extra mile and walk up to Ruth’s door to offer her food and see if she was okay.
“When I first met Ruth, I explained that I was a Red Cross volunteer fromSouth Carolina, and she couldn’t believe that I came all that way to help a little old lady,” said Kathy. “I wanted to make sure that she was okay and had plenty of food to eat. She said that her daughter was helping her and that she had everything that she needed. She insisted that I give the food to someone else in the neighborhood that needed it more than she did.”
“I am very blessed to be alive and know that other people have had it much worse,” said Ruth. “I know I am going to be okay and am glad that Kathy and the Red Cross continue to check in on me. The only thing I need now is for Blackie to come home safely. I really miss her.”
Kathy Brown is one of the 16 volunteers that was deployed from the Columbia Region to assist in disaster relief efforts inNorth Carolina. “It is very important to help our neighbors in their darkest hours – whether it is down the street, across the country, or around the world. Sometimes we have long hours during disaster relief operations, but people like Ruth make it all worth while and justify being away from home for weeks a time,” said Kathy. “I will never forget her face and that infectious smile.”
Those who want to help the people affected by this disaster can make a donation to support American Red Cross Disaster Relief. Their gift will enable the Red Cross to prepare for and provide shelter, food, emotional support and other disaster assistance. To make a donation, people can visit http://www.redcross.org or call 1-800-RED-CROSS. Contributions may also be sent to the American Red Cross, PO Pox 91, Columbia, SC 29202 or by calling (803) 540-1242.