For Lodi’s Tracey Singh, the death of her mother earlier this year was a stark reminder of how fleeting life can be, and how a little compassion can provide comfort for people during their most vulnerable times.
“Watching her go through what she did made me realize that helping others is important.,” said Singh, who was spurred to sign up for volunteer work with the Red Cross. “My mother was a person that would do anything for anyone, so I wanted to do this in her honor, because I know that’s what she would do if she was able.”
For Singh, the opportunity to volunteer her services arrived sooner than expected. With Hurricane Dorian bearing down on the Bahamas and Florida this week, Singh answered the call for help, packing her bags and heading to Florida to volunteer at one of the seven evacuation centers that were being set up in the city of Jacksonville. It was her first mobilization, having only joined the Red Cross in May.
The center provided shelter, food, health services and spiritual care to the 85 evacuees stationed there, most of them having fled communities along the coast.
After unleashing its fury on the Bahamas over the weekend, a weakened but still dangerous Dorian skirted the Florida coastline as a Category 3 hurricane, according to Singh.
She said the Jacksonville area experienced heavy winds and rains and that as the hurricane passed through they were ordered sheltered in place.
Singh says she worked 48 hours without a break providing care to the evacuees and supervising other volunteers. In an attempt to lighten the mood, volunteers led a line dancing session on Wednesday.
After the shelter-in-place order was lifted, the evacuees were able to return to their homes. Singh said no major flooding had been reported, but that there were many downed trees. She said the area still had power.
Singh was born and raised in Lodi, graduating from Lodi High in 1985. She taught for many years at De Anza High in San Leandro as a special education teacher working with severely handicapped children. She currently works for Blue Shield of California in Lodi.
With her work in Florida done, Singh said she will be deployed to North Carolina today or Saturday for “disaster assessment.”
As she awaited her departure on Thursday, Singh reflected on the past week.
“It was a good experience. Even though it was stressful for a lot of people we were able to provide a good environment for them while they waited to find out what their life would be after the hurricane,” Singh said. “We were like a family. It was great to see the community stick together.”