Leaving Carson City: Relief effort continues

After Emily Sermak's husband recovers from surgery, she plans to join the American Red Cross Hurricane Katrina relief effort.

As soon as she's sure he will be OK on his own, Sermak is going to help rebuild the lives of those who lost everything in the most devastating natural disaster to hit the Gulf Coast. Her husband, Paul, will have surgery Tuesday on his arm.

"I don't really want to go right now because it's a mess," she said Friday from her Carson City home. "I'm probably going to go in about six weeks."

Sermak, 69, is trained to drive an emergency response vehicle that brings food and water to victims. The 18-year veteran school bus driver moved to Carson City to retire and joined the Red Cross after Sept. 11. She is also a veteran of the relief effort for Hurricanes Frances and Ivan.

"The Red Cross will not send anybody to a place where there's looting and guns," she said about the reported violence in New Orleans and other cities ravaged by the hurricane and then picked over by gangs of looters. "Until the police and National Guard get all of that taken care of, they won't put us in there."

About 35 additional medical personnel from the Nevada Air and Army National Guard flew to Louisiana on Friday to assist with Hurricane Katrina relief. The National Guard will also collect medical supplies from Carson-Tahoe Hospital.

"We have two emergency-room physicians and one nurse who, through their role with the Nevada National Guard, have already arrived in New Orleans," Carson-Tahoe Hospital spokeswoman Cheri Glockner said. "We have had several inquiries from clinicians who are interested in going down to New Orleans."

Dr. Richard Newbold, Dr. Jack Shnurr and nurse Beth Boschee are a part of that effort.

Don Wilkinson, a Red Cross volunteer from Carson City, said he will probably leave for Washington D.C., to help in the relief effort after Sept. 15. He is restricted from going into the affected areas because of respiratory problems.

"I will probably go to work in the Washington D.C. data information center," he said. "I will help families get reconnected to loved ones."

Wilkinson said volunteers from Northern Nevada will probably be sent out in waves. About eight people from the area as set to leave "in short order.

"It boils down to we're going to get thoroughly cleaned out in equipment and personnel."

n Contact reporter Becky Bosshart at bbosshart@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1212.


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