Warwick man describes experience volunteering with Florida storm relief

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WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) – In the past two weeks, Joey Kraus has been to 10 different Florida cities and towns helping to deliver food and supplies as people rebuild their lives after the destruction of Hurricane Irma.

Kraus said he has handed out a few thousand meals to people who need them. He was tired of sitting on the sidelines so he signed up as a Red Cross volunteer and was sent on his first deployment to assist in hurricane relief in Florida.

“If this is what I needed I would hope that somebody would do the same for me,” he said.

Kraus said he’s done a lot in the past two weeks, such as working in donation warehouses to driving supply vans.

“We’d be driving down, almost like an ice cream truck style, you know. We’d go very slow, we’d have our lights on, we’d have our PA system and try to get people’s attention, that we’re here to help,” Kraus said.

He says hot meals, personal care products and cleaning supplies were what people asked for the most.

“I’ve handed out over 1,000 gallons of bleach,” he said with a laugh.

Kraus says he’ll never forget his first moments driving on the Florida highways after the storm.

“Starting to see all the trees down. You’ll see them all and they’re all in one direction it’s almost like a bulldozer just came down and knocked them all down,” he recalled.

In the days since Irma hit the Sunshine State, a lot has improved, according to Kraus. Most people have their electricity back and 20-foot-high piles of debris have been cleared. He says the rebuilding has begun.

“These people they’ve told me we’re OK, we’re good, we’re resilient and we’re gonna be fine. Thank you so much for everything you’ve done,” he said.

Kraus says he’s already looking forward to his next volunteer mission.

“I’ve made friends for life,” he said, recalling his experience so far in Florida.

Kraus was supposed to head home tomorrow, but he decided to extend his volunteer trip another week.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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